Almost immediately upon its completion in the 1860’s, the Gowanus Canal in South Brooklyn became known for its contamination. In 1887 the New York Times reported that the Canal “was pronounced to be offensive and dangerous to the health of the people presiding in the vicinity”. This “water highway” was purported to carry the power of the sea right into the city, bringing with it industrial capabilities; but in fact, the dead-ended canal was a semi-stagnant body of water without tidal flow to flush its contents out into Gowanus Bay.
On March 4, 2010, after over 100 years of degeneration and political paralysis, the Gowanus Canal was finally designated as a Superfund Site by the Federal Government. This designation allowed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate contamination at the site and develop a remedy. As recently as March 2013, the EPA finalized a $500 million plan to dredge and cap the Gowanus Canal; however, the cleanup has yet to begin.
At the SILS showcase, Lauren Reinhalter will present the methodology and findings of the research she did on the history of the Gowanus Canal.