The oil patterns on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY, form into the shape of the African continent caused by the coal tar and oil seeping to the surface. The shimmering colors come together in the strangest ways, sometimes for seconds at a time, to form recognizable shapes highlighted by the morning sun.
Sewage flowed into the canal as early as 1858, and by the 1880’s the waterway had gained the moniker “Lavender Lake” for its odorous qualities.
I had gained a fascination with this putrid, stinking body of water that cuts through my neighborhood in Brooklyn. Sort of hidden from the beauty of Brownstone Brooklyn, the canal was surrounded by industrial buildings nestled in the lowlands between the gentrified neighborhoods of Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Park Slope. It was a nowhere land with a toxic history. Today, it is a Superfund site.
Soon the oil will be gone from the surface as the EPA seals the bottom of the canal.
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