Gowanus: The Past and Future of Brooklyn's Curious Canal

image courtesy Joseph Alexiou
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Taught by Joseph Alexiou

Joseph Alexiou the author of Gowanus: Brooklyn's Curious Canal (NYU Press, Oct 2015). A freelance writer and editor, he is also licensed New York City tourguide, Francophile, and an avowed history nerd.

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Lying at the epicenter of one of Brooklyn's most rapidly gentrifying (and expensive) neighborhoods is a toxic waste site and open sewer: That's right, it's the Gowanus Canal.

This waterway is mostly famous for its stench and as a repository for dead bodies, but did you know that the Gowanus's story begins before Brooklyn was its own city, or colonization itself?

While raw sewage still flows into it today (thank the limited foresight of 19th-century urban planning!), did you know that Gowanus hosted beds of delicious and locally-sourced foot-long oysters? Or even though toxic coal tar now lines its floor, much of the building materials that made brownstone Brooklyn passed through its waters?

This class is for anyone who’s read about the Gowanus but wants to know more about how it got there, how it got so polluted, and what is next for this post-industrial neighborhood poised at the brink of yet another evolution.

This lecture takes place at the Gowanus Souvenir Shop, located at 567 Union Street in Gowanus. Your ticket includes a glass of wine


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