Blog 3: Gowanus Canal

After listening to Joseph Alexiou’s speaking, I get to know more about Gowanus Canal. Gowanus Canal is located in Brooklyn, and it is 1.8 miles. Joseph talks about the history of the canal: why it is here, how it is here, and how it is polluted. I am interested in why people built a canal, and who comes up to this idea. The main two person who contributed to this, are Daniel Richard and Edwin Litchfield. Daniel Richard is a developer and a business man, who came up with the idea of Gowanus Canal. However he is not the person who present the idea and design to public. Edwin Litchfield is an engineer and investor, he is the one who presented the canal and to the public.

During the 18 centuries, the City of Brooklyn was growing rapidly, many new people moved into Gowanus Greek, and it leads to many big problems. The first problem is people need more space to live. They need to build housing for those new people coming in, but the marshland that flood a lot does not help the situation. Therefore they had to figure out where to place these people. Another problem is other cities did not have sewage system. In Brooklyn, people get the trash in a bucket and then dumped them into the water. These problems came along when a city is still in development. Problems like how to build house when there is a marshland, and how to drain the water since they had no sewage system. Till now, these problems still exists. And government and people are trying to figure out the best solution.

Daniel Richard, who grow up in the upper state of New York, hired an engineer and came up with a plan of creating a canal in Brooklyn. He thought a canal can solve these problems, as the canal can bring commerce, have tugs and barges landed here. It can also drain rain water because they can build a sewage system with it, where the rain water will flow through. However, the engineering’s plan costs too much money that City of Brooklyn did not agree on. In 1849, Richard came up to his own design, which is the canal shape that we know today. He decided the canal follow the shape of it natural bank, hence, it save a lot of money from digging and filling up the holes. He also come up with the idea of basins so he can get private land owners to work on those basins which collects water. However, his great idea was never present and implement by himself. Because he was getting into trouble during his election, and he was unable to do it. That is why his well-designed idea was presented by Edwin C. Litchfield instead.

Edwin C. Litchfield bought all the land from Carroll Garden to Peak Hill, whereas the land are not well-developed and floods a lot. And he uses his own money to develop one side of this creek within his land, in the hope of getting the rest of the city and the private land owner follow his move. He built a road straight and not too slope so that cars can go up. He also uses Richard’s idea of having basin, and around his private basin, he wanted to have lots for shopping, buildings, and industrial factories. His plan was to have canal becoming a commercial district where it can allows business, groceries coming in, and all kind of industrials business. Everything people need, they can find it from this canal. Therefore, people can even buy all the materials to make up their house in this area. Moreover, the canal bring in all the important things the residents need, especially the energy, as coal was the only source of energy during that time. People burn coal to create energy. Therefore, shopping coal from the canal was the easiest way for people to generate energy for their houses.

Gowanus canal was built in a population growing time, the 18 centuries, whereas most of the people were moving in. People always need housing, food, and energy. Those demands pushes the development of cities, and the city development motivates population growth, it becomes a cycle of modern development. Which makes the canal become more and more important to both city development and people.

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