-- --

Thursday, June 24, 2010

On Man v. Nature, and the Gowanus Canal

Red Hook, Brooklyn
Photo by myself, in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

An odd combination of nature and machinery exists in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Large construction equipment sits on a dock on weekends.

In the distance is one of many loading cranes that move containers onto barges.


Not too far from the area above lies the Gowanus Canal, which was recently awarded Superfund status by the US government. The pollution there is so terrible, accumulated over years of neglect, that the Environmental Protection Agency has slated $300-500 million dollars to its clean-up.

The narrow strip of wetland is contaminated with heavy metals and other pollutants. Sometimes Mark and I drive over the canal, which is a scary greenish-brown color. Piles of trash lie on the banks.

Friends of ours live in a big building nearby, and though the label of 'Superfund site' is not a good one, they are happy. It means their neighborhood will stay small, the view from their windows won't change, and someone is finally taking responsibility for the mess.

It's strange to think of New York, and specifically, Brooklyn, as an industrial area. Right now it's most known for gentrification and rising real estate prices.

Click here for an article about the Gownanus Canal in the Times.

Related posts: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, The Gowanus and Something Old, Something New.


Anonymous said...

I wonder where the owners went? Skipped out to the Canary Islands and left the mess for the taxpayers to clean up to the tune of millions of dollars.

In the day, newspapers had real investigative reporters who dug up the creeps and published their whereabouts in the newspapers and invited the District Attorneys to take them to court.

That was then, this is now. What a different world we live in.

I liked the old one before the Gulf Oil Spills and your neighborhood mess.

Anonymous said...

What an important entry of yours, surely this place breathes history. Please have you all a nice Friday.

daily athens

T. Becque said...

Sad to hear about the pollution.

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem with the water in the canal is a result of the city dumping endless amounts of sewage into the water. The pollution from the old industries may have come to a halt, but the sewage continues to flow, year after year. This is the main reason why the neighborhood doesn't want large housing tracts to be built. Till the city does dos more than replace their Flushing Tunnel sewer pipe, no one believes that the present release of sewage into the water will be resolves. And without a significant change to the sewage system (like separating the combined sewer system) there is no way this area can accommodate new large housing tracts without creating an even more polluted Gowanus!

a frogg