IN THE 1600s, the Gowanus gave Brooklyn’s Dutch settlers an early export in the form of large oysters that thrived in the then salty freshwater body. Today, after a century of industrial waste and neglect, the Gowanus is slowly coming back to life.
A pump installed in 1999 flushes the canal’s total volume roughly six times per day. The same year the pump began operating, a small group of area locals formed the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club to begin reclaiming the historic body of water. Thanks to the pump and the club’s efforts, wildlife and boaters have returned to the canal’s now less murky waters.
To promote recreational use of the Gowanus, the club offers free canoe rentals and provides detailed guide maps for 20-minute self-guided tours. As Owen Foot, a club founder, put it, “Out in the bay, at the mouth of the canal at sunset, the feeling of escape from the city washes your troubles away.”
Visit www.gowanuscanal.org for canoeing and tour information.
Kelly Kingman The Brooklynite’s photo editor. She is also photo editor of The Week.