- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Visit Gowanus Batcave
Abandoned power station once home to a squatter community, now being developed into an arts center.
Fast-forward to the early 2000s, and what was now called the “Batcave” (whether it ever actually housed bats is unclear) was littered with graffiti. The homeless youth of the area began to flock to the abandoned structure, squatting in and eventually forming the Batcave into a community of sorts. Punks, travelers, and drifters created their own colony under the eaves, policing their own, and spray-painting political messages and discontent with the society at large on the walls of the building.
For a while, all was well. It was still a place to crash, party, and draw on the walls, but there was some semblance of order. It is said, though not confirmed, that hard drugs were kept out and violent crime was not tolerated. Unfortunately, after a drunken rooftop incident that involved the police, many of the squatters were evicted. Over time various people moved back in, but the rules were gone, and the Batcave slowly became a living space for junkies, dealers, and the harder-living, more aggressive faction of New York’s homeless population. Within two years of the punk kids’ ousting and the squat becoming a den, the violence culminated when a homeless man was thrown from a window and one overdosing teen was carted to the street for the authorities to clean up. The last residents of the Batcave were evicted in 2006.
Known best for the ever-changing political graffiti on its overhang, visible from the 4th Avenue 9 Streets stop on the F and G train, the building is now empty save the furniture and belongings of the people who had lived there.
Currently being cleaned of an excessive build-up of moldy books, mattresses, and plush toys (albeit the graffiti remains relatively untouched), the building was recently bought and is being developed into an art center and bicycle velodrome.