Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Brooklyn's Billion-Dollar Development Dream, Covered in Poop and Mercury

The reason that people make so much out of the rising of the Gowanus canal in Brooklyn is that 1. it is a cesspool of horror and 2. its banks are the most prime site for development in all of Brooklyn: miles of ancient warehouses, trash yards, parking lots and storage, just waiting to be luxury condos. Luxury condos… that will fill up with poop and cadmium every time there's a storm surge. Here's what happened last night, when high tide came. The canal overflooded so much that it drowned the bridges, and the entire block surrounding, turning Bond Street into a river, and beginning to march up to Hoyt Street. The grounds of the enormous forthcoming Whole Foods only flooded mildly last night! Enjoy that.

This video was taken facing Park Slope, from Third Street—and while standing uphill from Bond, which was entirely underwater. If you can make it out, there are two cars underwater, atop the Third Street Bridge—which is one of only three high-trafficked paths across the Gowanus.

5 Comments / Post A Comment

realestatewonk (#239,044)

I think this post is a bit short-sighted, having both lived in Gowanus for a few years and reported on it extensively. It's always easy and fun to laugh at developers, and I do it all the time, but New York needs more housing–whether it needs more luxury housing, well, no–and most of Gowanus is ugly as shit and underdeveloped. The canal is a Superfund site, so within the next 10 years the CSOs etc will hopefully be a thing of the past. Developers obviously have to think about preventing overflow from the Gowanus if they want to build there via better drainage systems etc, and that plus more residents clamoring for the same would also hopefully make the area a better place to live. Finally, there is a lot of flooding in the Gowanus area whenever severe rainfall hits because of crappy sewage systems, not the canal (4th Ave and Carroll, EG, which always floods) that the city seems to be in no rush to fix. Fine to be skeptical of development in Gowanus, but it might make it a better place to live. But, yeah, no truck with the sentiment that developers are generally greedy bastards!

MSP (#7,417)

I'm not a New Yorker, so this may seem silly, but what purpose does the canal serve today? Is there enough existing industry relying on the canal to make filling it a non-option?

realestatewonk (#239,044)

@MSP It serves no essential purpose as far as I know. Some plants along it use it to move stuff in and out. Has always been a mystery to me why they don't just fill it in; there must be some semi-decent reason, but I've never heard it.

mishaps (#5,779)

@MSP it's still used when the sewage system overloads as a spillage site. And more generally people like waterways, even literally crappy ones – there would be no political support for filling it in.

Finally, I think the cleanup probably needs to happen before you even began to consider filling it in, as there are high levels of industrial chemicals from the many years when it was used for industrial waste disposal that you probably don't want to be just leaving around even in concrete.

(Is the Superfund cleanup already underway? I don't even know.)

MSP (#7,417)

@realestatewonk @mishaps Thanks! And I guess New York would never fill it in before cleaning it up–Love Canal Pt. II isn't anything anyone wants.

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