Mr. Alexiou’s Presentation

Mr. Alexiou spoke about the Gowanus, and how it really came to be. We spoke about all sorts of things related to the Gowanus, such as how it originally started out, how it advanced through different time periods, and how it became this polluted place that currently exists now.

The canal was really essential to Brooklyn in it’s early days. Industries really wanted the property right around it, mainly because of the transportation routes. Mr.¬†Alexiou even mentioned how it was a popular place to get fresh oysters from, which people used to advertise very proudly of, because of their size. In a way, the Canal was really the best part of the City of Brooklyn, before it joined the City of New York. The land in Brooklyn was perfect for a lot of factories to be built right along the canal, or near it. The land was sloped down to the canal in the surrounding areas. Germans were a major group to settle in Gowanus in the 1840s. This was right after the population increase, that nearly increased Brooklyn’s population from 2000 to 60000 people in a span of 40 years.

We also discussed how the land near the Gowanus was perfect to grow vegetables. It was primarily made out of Marshland, so it was soft to dig, and easy to plant into. The common misconception was that the Gowanus was once made up of swamps, but it’s mainly marshland.The canal allowed for an easy access to a water source. The water was also the perfect combination of salt water and fresh water to allow the perfect environment for oysters to grow and flourish in. Posters showed that they had the biggest Oysters in the country in the Gowanus, very proudly.

Since all of these factories and industries wanted to build right along the canal, there were a lot of issues that resulted later on, specifically in the 1900’s. There weren’t as many regulations (or any) that protected the canal like there are today. Factories would just dump waste right into the canal, and they did this for close to a 100 years. This really caused the canal to get really polluted, really quickly.

The government started to get more involved in the late 1900’s after it was clear that the Gowanus, a once great canal, is considered to be toxic. Some of the things in the Gowanus can cause you to become ill if you come in contact with them. We even spoke about the person who decided it would be a wise decision to go swimming in the Gowanus, even if it was for a good cause.

I completely agree with Mr. Alexiou when he explained how the city isn’t doing that much to fix the Gowanus. The feud that the federal and city government have had for a very long time now is starting to get in the way. The federal government definitely is interested in helping, and is forcing New York City to take action, but NYC is taking the “cheap” way out, and instead of using a long term solution, they’re more interested in taking the short term action, and the one which might save them the most money. This method most likely will not last for long, or even work that well. I do agree with Mr. Alexiou that there needs to be more done, as soon as possible. I don’t think that this issue will go away on its own, and that it will actually get worse.

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