The Slime of the Gowanus Canal
The Gowanus Canal was once a short, but very important waterway for shipping. It also is among the most polluted waterways I have seen. Sewage from all over Brooklyn overflows into the Gowanus during heavy rains (which is better than it flowing into my apartment, which it used to do). This sewage problem will only get worse as the 4th Ave. development continues and even worse if Ratner gets to build his little project. I have always found the smell near the canal quite unique any time I happen to walk across it on my way to Carroll Gardens.
Several plans have been kicked around over the years to develop the Gowanus "water"front. In a sense I think in an ideal world quite a lovely, thriving community could well grow around such a quaint waterway. The only problem is, between pollution, sewage and the smell, it is really hard for me to envision anyone actually wanting to live, work or play anywhere near the oily mess.
Last Saturday (July 26th) my wife and I happened to be crossing the 9th St. bridge across the lovely Gowanus, holding our noses as usual. When we happened to glance down at the gloppy "flow" of the canal, we were more repulsed than usual at what we saw. The surface of the water appeared almost solid, like a crystalized oil slick. Here are some lovely pictures of the canal on July 26th, 2008: (pictures taken by Joy Romanski)
See the lovely phase change between the solid slick and the water? Here's what it looked like on the opposite bank:
Yes...that is a glass bottle embedded and suspended by the muck. Want to see a close up?
More debris enshrined in the amber-like "water":
Though for sheer "man that is gross" impact, nothing can beat a used latex glove embedded in the crap:
The glove seems to be giving the Vulcan "Live Long and Prosper" sign, doesn't it. Seems like a sad wish to the passerby that their fate be better than the gloves.
My going-on-four year old son commented on the smell and compared the slick with the green slime used by Yucky Man in the Tower of Power episode of The Backyardigans.
So, to all who want to build a lovely waterfront community, and I am all for that ideal, sure looks like a hell of a lot of work still needs to be done.