Tag Archives: gowanus canal

Miles on the Gowanus

There are more places to discover than I can ever anticipate.


It should come as no surprise, but wandering along the banks of the Gowanus occasionally turns up patches of crops. (The usual desperate strands of knotweed, mugwort, and the Tree of Heaven abound everywhere.) This stand of broomcorn sits at the edge of a bus depot, where it absorbs oil destined for the water.

On the water, the barges were dreamlike and in slow, constant motion. Square concrete blocks were being moved and also made up the walls that hemmed in their production. Everything seemed so unbearably weighty.

This water has absorbed the remnants of industry and old lighting practices, pieces of metal and bone. It is still lined with piles of scrap and there is demand enough to be able to drift among its banks. I saw one cormorant that I feared would not escape the canal, but it did. Families waved at us from the bridges.

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Miles on the canal

I spent the whole day learning more about the Gowanus canal and its environs. A full report is forthcoming, but I think it’s significant that after all my talk about toxic tributaries, I finally took to the water.