Blog Post #1: An Introduction to Gowanus


The Gowanus area of Brooklyn is full of contrasts. The subway station I walk out of feels run down on the inside, with creaky escalators and that stale smell of pee. Yet from the outside, the raised platform looks artistic, with its curving sheets of metal and clean, modern design. Is it new or old?

As I try to make my way to the Gowanus canal, I am frustrated to find that much of the land along the canal is private property. Snaking my way through the adjacent street, I notice mainstakes of hister-brooklyn — there are yoga studios, coffee shops, and even a fancy-looking thrift store. This is a pretty nice area! A whistle pierces through the air and I whip around to find that I am standing in front of a giant concrete truck. How did I miss a busy concrete plant right next to these cute, little townhouses?  As I clumsy attempt to avoid the honking trucks and speeding cars, I finally see a bridge with a view of the canal.

From the bridge I can get a good shot of the canal. I take out my camera and set up the right camera angle. This is when I notice the contrast between the industrial piles of rubble and metal, with the shining highrises of Manhattan in the background. I guess the concrete in Manhattan has to come from somewhere.

In an attempt to safely cross the busy street to see the other side of the bridge, I walk the length of the bridge. Waiting to cross, I notice a bunch of parked garbage trucks. With the walk signal guarding me, I cross the street to find a towering web of metal pipes branded as “NYC Sanitation.” Bingo! I was here to investigate sewage overflow into the canal. I took a deep breath in, expecting to be gaggin from the smell of sewage, but was surprised to only get a faint whiff of garbage. Do I need to get closer to the water? Maybe it is cold enough that it doesn’t smell?  

Walking back to the subway, I kept glancing between dilapidated building and pristine shops. It felt clean and fresh yet dirty and under construction. I left Gowanus with a feeling that I had seen a new side of Brooklyn. It was still young and new, but it also displayed the labors of dealing with construction and sewage from the overflowing city.

~ by emmasamant on February 17, 2019.