Is it a woman's form? The oil patterns on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY, 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.
I have photographed the Gowanus Canal, located in one of the densest population centers in America, for over thirty years. In that time, I have seen the real estate around the polluted waterway soar in value. The 1.7 mile long canal is currently in an EPA Superfund cleanup plan that is estimated to be over $1.5 billion, and the entire project won’t be completed until mid-2023. Unfortunately, the developers now rule and high rises will cut off access to what could have been an amazing waterfront for the community.
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