Sunday, October 10, 2010

Canoeing the Gowanus was Superfund!

Before we ventured into the murky waters, David Krieger of the Gowanus Community Development Corporation gave a brief history of the canal, which was named after a chief in the Lenape tribe back when it was still a creek. This was around the time when the borough of Brooklyn was a wee town named Breukelen! During the Gowanus' glory days right after World War I, it was the most trafficked commercial canal in the country.

We entered at one of the few non-private points of access to the canal, at the dead end of cobble stoned 2nd street. Here's google's street view:


We canoed towards the pretty gnarly northern end of the canal first. Lots of filmy layers of grime sitting on the surface of the water, along with of course floating trash bags, beer cans, and lots of unidentifiable slime.

There are several houseboats along the edges of the canal, including this charming one:


It was fun cruising under the bridges that I normally ride my bike over--what a strange perspective!


It was high tide and we just barely managed to clear this really low one. Oh god.


The southern end of the canal is less filthy, because it's closer to the bay. That's also where the two remaining operational cement factories are. These guys piped in the banjo music from Deliverance on their PA system as we paddled by...


All along the banks are bus depots, abandoned lots, and towering reminders of the waterway's industrial past.

What a magical way to spend a gorgeous Saturday morning--I'd gladly do it again! Just gotta be sure to check the tide tables next time.

2 comments:

audrey said...

I guess I really missed out! That's what I get for being squeamish about a little toxic sludge...

Julia said...

If you ever wanna go and need company, I'm your lady.