Gowanus Canal

by ray

I grew up in a small neighborhood in Brooklyn called Carroll Gardens in the same brownstone my mother and her mother grew up in. While I lived in Staten Island the majority of my youth was spent with my grandparents in Brooklyn. My pre preschool education consisted of oral tradition and the handing down of stories of that neighborhood. My family’s home is on 2nd Street below Smith. It is a block away from the 3rd Street Bridge that the Gowanus Canal runs under. I remember being told stories about how polluted the water was that you couldn’t swim in it, that the water was like quicksand. My mother once told me she lost a childhood friend who had drowned in the water. I never thought much of it later on. I took it as her way of making sure I never tried to venture off and play by the bridge. It was something I haven’t thought about until now. A little web searching turned up these three links. My mother’s friend was not the only one to drown in that canal. The first is a blog post from a resident of Carroll Gardens who happened to be taking picturing on the 3rd Street Bridge when she was approached by a woman who began to tell her about how she used to dive off the same bridge in her youth and lost a friend to the water. She described the quicksand like nature of the waters I had heard about growing up. The latter is a lengthy (28 minute) youtube video giving some background on the Canal and how it has reached its current Superfund state and goes into the toxic levels found in the canal.



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