Tantalizingly Toxic Watering Hole

Just because a canal is toxic is no reason it shouldn’t be fashionable. Apparently, that’s the reasoning of many trend-propelled hipsters and other new age adventurers in regard to the Gowanus Canal: NYC’s infamously polluted waterway. In spite of (or, perhaps, because of) its toxic notoriety, the canal attracts a lusty horde dressed in Coachella-styled apparel who come to play beside its tainted waters; of course, they bring their children who play just as well as their parents.

The Felliniesque setting pulsates with techno sounds as adults bask in the sun or lounge in the groves, while their kids play in the sandboxes (formerly bocce courts). They feed on chic and raffishly overpriced brick oven pizza, imbibe fine wine and ale (of course, raffishly overpriced) and coltishly wait in long queues at portable toilets.

“There’s no place in Brooklyn, or in New York City, that feels kind of more pleasant than being right here, which is odd given that that is a toxic waterway,” said Jennifer Prediger, a producer of environmental videos who lives in nearby Carroll Gardens. “But it’s actually quite lovely. It’s the loveliest toxic waterway I’ve ever spent time on.”

The Gowanus Canal’s new-found loveliness is quite startling; the canal is as “lovely” as a landfill. Nonetheless, this is the mindset of today’s gentrified communities and its resulting offspring; in this case, the Gowanus Canal’s bordering neighborhoods of Carroll Garden, Boerum Hill and Park Slope (where this delirious blogger hangs his hat).

NYC has been settled by modern nouveau-riche: defiantly attracted to a grotesque beauty in half-empty warehouses, a fantastical charm in semi-derelict factories…a morbid splendor in what society has discarded and oftentimes wasted. Perhaps it’s a protest of a different sort; a type of demonstration that is far more self-indulgent than its 1960s counterparts but desires social change nonetheless.

Read more: New York Times (slide shows)