The Federal government has declared the Gowanus Canal a Superfund site, which means that it will probably get cleaned up sooner rather than later.
The City had opposed the designation, wanting to do the clean-up job itself, and afraid that the designation would scare-off developers. That’s nonsense on all counts. First, where would this broke-ass city come up with the half-a-billion dollars that is estimated will be required to do the cleanup? The Federal government is broke too, but it can at least print its own money. Second, it’s hardly a secret that the canal is heavily polluted. I think developers will have more confidence that this way, it will actually get cleaned up.
The canal is not only a big slice of the industrial history of New York, it's also the site of the first, and largest land battle of the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Long Island (also known as the Battle of Brooklyn).
The Times has put up a beautiful collection of photographs and paintings of the canal and its environs. This painting by Brooklyn artist Ella Yang, is of my favorite bridge in the city, the Carroll Street Bridge. More than 120 years old, it’s the oldest of only 4 retractable bridges in the United States.
The neighborhood today is very still and quiet, and is one of my favorite places to walk and bike. I volunteer with the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, – we weed, plant wildflowers, even dumped a whole lot of mushroom spores into the ground to absorb heavy metals before they run off from the streets, and into the water. It’s cool, fun stuff.
As one of the artists said at the Times site, “it’s a special and unique place”.