school of arts and sciences

A Canal Flows in Brooklyn

Joseph Alexiou, A06, leaned over the railing of Brooklyn’s Union Street Bridge on a windy day, contemplating the fetid waterway on which he has become an expert. “When you look down at it, the oil sheen is hideous and horrible,” he told me. The Gowanus Canal, which courses for nearly two miles between the neighborhoods of Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, was declared a Superfund site in 2010. Its waters, 15 feet at their deepest, contain heavy metals, benzene and coal tar—and treats like E. coli, gonococcus and cholera germs.