Tuesday, February 19, 2008

“It’ll Be Just Like Venice!”

Even before I moved to Gowanus, every few months I’d read in the New York Times how the Canal offered such wonderful development opportunities. It was only a matter of time until the Gowanus was a destination in itself.

The Canal has improved, I’ll admit. It has lost that extraordinary shade of green (the glowing color that a vial of poison should be in a Warner Brothers’ cartoon), and the aroma is less intense. A headline in this week’s Park Slope Courier-Life boasted: “New Gowanus Canal: Not as stinky as before.” Well, that’ll have ‘em lining up to buy tickets.

Back in December, Ben McGrath wrote a Town of the Town piece in the New Yorker (link above) about the City efforts to, as he put it: “raise the Gowanus’s quality, at a cost of about $140,000,000, to Class I, so that it will join merely filthy waterways such as the Harlem River and Coney Island Creek.”

It’s been a busy Gowanus year in the news. There was unfortunate demise of the minke whale, back in April. There was the Revolutionary War era submarine dive by Duke Riley, which my mother and I found hilarious, but the N.Y.P.D. and my boyfriend did not. There are also the three strange if brave men who insist on swimming (shudder) in the Canal.

My personal favorite scoop of last year was the New York Institute of Technology students who analyzed the water, and, among other bacteria, found gonorrhea. Who knew gonorrhea could survive in a body of water?

All that said, imagine my surprise this morning when I was procrastinating by skimming the Gowanus Lounge (http://gowanuslounge.blogspot.com), and saw that Toll Brothers is coming to this part of Brooklyn- they’ve already built luxury condos in Greenpoint. And that’s Toll Brothers as in the company that sponsors the Met Opera broadcasts, not the chocolate chip cookies though I guess that would make them Toll House Brothers, which doesn’t sound quite right. Okay, so pretend you’re a rich person, and you want to buy a luxury condo in New York City on the water. Do you buy a place over the Fairway in Red Hook? No, you’re an urban pioneer- you want to buy in Gowanus on the Canal, so that every time there’s heavy rain the sewers empty into the Canal (it doesn’t just smell like a toilet, it is one; although to be fair, the Venetian Canals have the same function) and even when there’s not a storm, there’s gonorrhea living in the water.

Has the world gone mad?

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