For those with an interest in the environmental-challenged Gowanus Canal, there's some excellent Growing Up Gowanus nostalgia today on the Carroll Gardens blog Pardon Me for Asking. It's a recollection from someone who grew up playing on and around Brooklyn's Grand Canal in the 1960s and 70s. Here's a taste:
The Gowanus Canal used to be a great place to play...we used to jump on the sand and gravel barges. Pretty dumb now that I think about it, but you know, kids will be kids. The canal was absolutely filthy. On warm days, you could smell it for a half a mile or more. One time, my friends and I constructed a make-shift raft and paddled our way around the passage of the canal as far up as the Hamilton Avenue drawbridge. Each stroke of our paddles drew up such an awful smell that we figured it wasn't worth the adventure and gave up...The canal was a rumored gangster dumping ground, especially the spot at the end of Bond Street. Seeing floaters was commonplace. They would usually drift up towards the bay toward Hamilton Avenue where the N.Y.P.D. scuba team would hook em out.Yes, the good old days.
· When The Gowanus Canal Was A Playground: A 1960's Carroll Gardens Childhood [PMFA]