2014 in Review, Part 2

Toxic and Desirable

I took this photo of the Gowanus Canal last summer just before sunset. I was scouting the area to find locations to photograph later, at twilight, for The Edge of Night project. The warm glow from the sun makes even this place, whose toxic contaminants began accumulating in the nineteenth century, look attractive. The Gowanus Canal was designated a Superfund site in 2010.

Manufactured gas plants, mills, tanneries, and chemical plants are among the many facilities that operated along the canal. As a result of years of discharges, storm water runoff, sewer outflows and industrial pollutants, the Gowanus Canal has become one of the nation’s most extensively contaminated water bodies. Contaminants include PCBs, coal tar wastes, heavy metals and volatile organics.

I enjoy photographing the area around the canal because of its gritty industrial past, which is still apparent in the present. But change and gentrification are inevitable, even here. Although the start of the EPA's planned cleanup is still a couple of years away, developers have already started building condos that will overlook the canal, and trendy restaurants are cropping up. There is even a Whole Foods Market, which opened on land next to the canal, I want to continue visiting this area of Brooklyn to try to capture a sense of its past before it completely disappears and to witness its transformation into yet another hip new neighborhood to live in..