12 DAYS OF BROOKLYN: Reflecting on the Gowanus

Day Nine • 12 Views of Brooklyn
Painting by Ella Yang. See Who's Who

Painting by Ella Yang. See Who’s Who


dec14TWO KEY WORDS ASSOCIATED WITH THE GOWANUS  CREEK CANAL are “toxic” and “sky.” Extra emphasis on the first came with reports of the woman’s body pulled out of the canal on Tuesday and immediately whisked off to Methodist Hospital, no more said about her condition. News accounts recapped the well-deserved EPA Superfund rating of one of the nation’s most extensively contaminated water bodies. True, all true, enough to make you gag . But the – literally – upside of our canal is the amount of open sky over both the waterway and the low-rise, mostly industrial buildings that line it. That is just how the light over the old downtown (in what we call Outer Brooklyn) Gansevoort Meatpacking District  used to be, before high-rise development began to – again, literally – cast its shadows over what had become a “hot” area. The eternal urban tradeoff. While the debate over canal clean-up continues, it’s good to take some time before change comes to Gowanus to admire the big sky and its reflections. The landmarked Carroll Street bridge is a possible vantage. Help in seeing what you’re looking at comes from Ella Yang, whose painting is surely one of the most appealing representations of a Gowanus water scene since Henry Gritten‘s in 1851.

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