Professors Montgomery and Leonard

Author: Ronella Parma

Final Project Submission – Team 4

Hello All,

Final Presentation:

Final Outline: Learning Places_Group 4_Outline

LIB 2205ID_D930 Learning Places: Understanding the City

Jake Collado, Ronella Parma, Jake Heaney, Leandra Marie

Group 4


Project Outline

Research Question: How does the Government’s cleaning of the Gowanus canal impact the industrial and residential communities?

Excerpt from Public Health: ““People using the canal can reduce the risk of becoming ill by avoiding the canal water after periods of effluent discharge, rainfall, when the water is cloudy or turbid, or when pollution is clearly visible (for example , petroleum sheens).”

  1. Relevance
  • Public safety
  • Environmental Concerns (population health)
  • Industrial Concerns – Businesses forced out
  • High Cost
  • Canal essential due to location
  1. Background information and context
  • Opened in 1825, expanded in 1834-1862
  • Originally was a creek until the 1860s, when developer Edwin Litchfield turned it into a Canal cutting off the freshwater source.
  • October 1905 – Brooklyn Eagle reported saltwater to be pumped into canal; no set date
  • Place on the Superfund program National Priorities List on March 2, 2010.
  • The cost of the cleanup plan is estimated to be $500 million.
  • First argument with supporting evidence from your research


Argument 1: Black Mayo (Carcinogens) — impact of cleaning

  • 10ft thick of black mayo at bottom of canal
  • Is a mixture of sewage, tar, runoff from the streets, and chemicals from local industries
  • Negative for Community? (Black Mayo)
  • Possible air contaminants by removing the black mayo
  • Even If removed, the cause of the black mayo is still there in runoff sewage and industries


Argument 2: Jobs currently available around the Gowanus canal

  1. Gowanus Canal Conservancy
  • This organization strives for ecologically sustainable public spaces and parks around the Canal and is often looking for people to join their team both as volunteers and paid staff.
  1. Indeed
  • Current jobs looking for warehouse sorters, stock team members, shipping receptionist, content creators, receptionist, marketing managers as well as freelance writers within a 5-mile radius of the canal.


Argument 3: Community Housing Values

  • Several levels of communities surround the area of the Gowanus Canal from both private to public housing
  • Several apartment complexes in the area
  • go for the price range of $300 thousand – $5million
  • Zillow Pricing for Gowanus Area
  • While investors build luxury high-rises, the area has skyrocketed into a transformed community.
  • In sewage treatment side alone, The Environmental Protection Agency began overseeing the canal in 2010
  • Renovations of the area has increasingly improved to help rejuvenate the area
  • Gowanus Home Property Values
  • 1940 [Then] and 2020 [Now] – Photo Comparison
  • After the cleaning, will this change?
    • Currently, The Surrounding area of the Gowanus Canal is improving.
    • The amount of the money the City of New York is spending but the water and sewage treatment is going to be an ongoing problem for the next decade
    • As of 2017, Perhaps the numbers will change with an increase that will happen in the future with the 2019-2020 census


Argument 4: Gowanus Community Census Data

  • ZIP codes 11231, 11217, and 11215 all encompass Gowanus
  • Population decline from 1970 to 1980 & over the next ten years
    • 1990 to 2000: population grew +7.4%
    • 2000 to 2010: decline compared to increase in the overall community district.
  • Sample from 2007-2011 = population is on the rise.
  • Rising Tensions in the Community
    • Industrial Interests
    • Residential Interests
  • Population of Gowanus Chart (Census data)
  • Total Population in 2010, 2014 & 2018 Comparison
  • Gowanus Demographics



  1. Answer to the research question; is there an answer?
  • If cleaned, we expect
    • CSO still needs to be prevented/ managed to stop canal from becoming toxic again
    • The residential community to grow
      • Housing values & increase of social communities
    • Only certain industry businesses
      • Cement plants – need for waterway
    • Introduction of other business & home-owners due to community attraction (being near the water; open space; view of Manhattan)


  1. Recommendations for further study
  • Effects covid-19 will have on the cleaning process
  • Water Quality of the Gowanus throughout the next 5-10 years
  • Inflation of housing prices due to the cleaning process
  • Change in the public census over the last 10 years with the use of the 2020 census
  • Will there be more jobs constructed and available if there is an influx due to the cleaning process of the Gowanus Canal



Final Annotated Bibliography: Learning Places_Group 4_Annotated Bibliography

(PDF Versions: Learning Places_Group 4_Annotated BibliographyLearning Places_Group 4_Outline)

LIB 2205ID_D930 Learning Places: Understanding the City

Jake Collado, Ronella Parma, Jake Heaney, Leandra Marie

Group 4


Annotated Bibliography

Jake Heaney:
Kelley, Tyler J. “In the ‘Black Mayonnaise’ of Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal, Alien Life Is Being Born – Facts So Romantic.” Nautilus, 22 Mar. 2016,

In this blog post, The author Tyler J. Kelly talks about Joseph Alexiou experience in traversing the canal in a rowboat down the Gowanus canal.  While the experience is telling about the condition of the canal, the blog post specifically talks about the black mayo on the floor bed of the canal and how it has gotten into the condition it is in today.  The blog also briefly talks about the different bacteria in the water which along with the black mayo could be a cause of harm to the community during the cleaning process.

“A Massive Steel Wall Is Coming to the Gowanus Canal.” Brooklyn Eagle, 5 Nov. 2019,

In this news article the paper goes over a way in which the National Grid the company is trying to help stop the growth of contaminants in the Gowanus canal, such as black mayo.  This is done by constructing a steel wall which is meant to prevent liquid tar from entering the canal system by a nearby gas plant.  In the article there is also a video showing the movement of the black mayo stating that they had to scrape the bottom of the canal so a larger barge can get through.

Spivack, Caroline. “Gowanus Canal Superfund Cleanup Begins: ‘You’re Gonna

Smell Some Smells’.” DNAinfo New York, DNAinfo New York, 25 Oct. 2017,

This article mainly focuses on the cleaning impact that will have an effect on the surrounding communities.  The article talks about how the bottom of the canal was partly cleaned of the black mayo and how when doing so they are making sure that any toxic material they pick up will be safe for the community. It also has a projected date of the clean-up to be completed in 2020.

“Plate 29: Bounded by Court Street, President Street, Fourth Avenue, Prospect Avenue, Hamilton Avenue and Lorraine.” NYPL Digital Collections,

This fire atlas map is really useful to the presentation as it shows that the area around the canal is heavily industrialized which could be a possible source of the heavy pollution in the canal.  In the map it can be seen gas companies and oil works which have helped the pollution in the canal grow.

Hubert, Craig. “What Exactly Is the Black Mayonnaise at the Bottom of the Gowanus Canal?” Brownstoner, 13 Nov. 2017,

This source of information is mainly used for the picture of the black mayo being moved due to an effort to move a ship down the canal.  It does have some interesting information to go with it but it was mainly just for the picture from the video.


Jake Collado:

Albrecht,Leslie. “MAP: Who owns all the property along the Gowanus canal” . 12, May 2017. Accessed on 18, April 2020.

Writer Leslie Albrecht speaks in this article about the power players, market control and the environmental contamination of the Gowanus Area. As investments run rampage  between the environmental affairs department of the Office of the Mayor of New York City, The Environmental Protection Agency and Property Market Groups. The money that has been spent within the prior 8 years as of the time of the writing of the article gives insight on the investment and resurgence of the Gowanus canal area. While not an exact primary source on the outcomes of same investments, it gives a proper outcome and historical mention.

Rugh, Peter “NYC’s Latest Luxury Scheme could leave Gowanus Residents in a Foul Place”. 1, July 2019.  Web.  Accessed on 18, April 2020.

Writer Peter Rugh Mentions on the situation of the raw management and continuing process of the level of sewage that seeps into the Canal Waterway. He mentions that while the EPA began overseeing the canal cleanup in 2010 over the objections of the city, the fact that the Gowanus Canal was declared a superfund site forced the city to “scrap its initial upzoning plans” but today persist on the commitment of the plans. Rugh also mentions that after Superstorm Sandy in 2012, the City’s department of Environmental Preservations installed a pair of sewage overflow tanks which has been noticed to cost $77.7 million to now $1.2 Billion. Housing in the area, both public and private, has also taken a toll to the reinvestment into the area with NYCHA converting several private own buildings into Section 8 housing projects, while also investing $37 Million to several units. Rugh mentions that the fact of gentrification in rejuvenated interest in the area will skyrocket rents and damage rent-stabilization.

Krisel, Rebecca Salima. “Gentrifying a superfund site: why Gowanus Brooklyn is becoming a real estate hot spot”. Columbia University. No. 14(2015), pp. 214-224. Accessed on 23, April 2020.

Writer Rebecca Krisel mentions in her paper on the Gentrification and Housing Market price bubble that Brooklyn has shown a level of gentrification that also allows “Industrial Displacement”(Page 6). Krisel also mentions the impact that small businesses around the area are faced with the waterways and the gentrification. To some it’s a blessing in disguise because of the amount of variety and the income gain from the new possibilities of tourism but to others it’s a problem due to rising rent due to the revitalization of the area. The journal is while not a primary source mentions the interactions of several shop owners getting first-hand the availability of the area while also expressing the negative opinions that the owners face when living around the area. While not deeply vital to the contributions for the presentations it’s the closest to the firsthand perspective while also serving a point of reference for the project

Zillow inc. Accessed on 21, April 2020

This shows the price range average of housing complexes within the Gowanus and Gowanus Canal Boundary Area. Both Real estate and Home values are different ranging near an estimate of  $1 Million, with the highest being near $3.6 Million.

“NYC’s Latest Luxury Scheme Could Leave Gowanus Residents in a Foul Place.” The Indypendent,

Writer Peter Rugh mentions the correlation between the level of sewage and the residents that reside in the area. The negative impact of the Black Mayo is causing a level of high rents and rejuvenated property value due to the restoration of both the water way and the gentrification level. Rugh also mentions the Official Parties responsibility and the status as of the time of writing for the canal environmental purification. Rugh also mentions the situation that was presented during 2012’s Superstorm Sandy and the high-water flooding that was poured into the streets while also mentioning the population housing stability with the high rents.

Newman, Andy. “Can Gowanus Survive Its Renaissance”. The New York Times. 17, Oct 2017. Web. Accessed on 5/6/20

Writer Andy Newman discusses the political views of the Canal’s purification efforts while also mentioning Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s office effort on the restoration of the residential and commercial businesses that roam the area. Newman also included photographs and firsthand perspectives of the Black Mayo and the operations of the resident’s thanks with the renewal process.

Trulia. Gowanus, New York, NY,5120,Gowanus/ Accessed on 5/7/20

This shows further information of the price range average of housing complexes within the Gowanus and Gowanus Canal Boundary Area. Alongside the Zillow information, the Trulia site allows further beneficial information for the research. Gowanus New York Home Value. Zillow Inc. Accessed on 5/7/20

This shows further information of the price range average including the Market Overview including the market home value and market range. Currently with the Covid-19 Outbreak, there is no record of the current market health. The Chart value allows further detail since the current market range per house is different and difficult to retrieve information.


Leandra Maria:

EPA Issues Administrative Order Requiring Start of Gowanus Canal Superfund Site Cleanup. (2020, January 28). Retrieved from

The Environmental Protection Agency had announced the cleanup of the Gowanus Canal in a plan that would take approximately 30 months to complete and will focus on the upper canal as well as 1st street turning basin. This is an interesting source to look at because it can support our points on progress made throughout the years and it gives a more up-to-date deadline for when we could be seeing a change in the Gowanus canal as well as the area surrounding it. This information was published January of this year and did not account for the Coronavirus Pandemic but still serves as a reliable source when looking at plans in place for a new and improved canal.

Jobs & Internships. (2020, March 30). Retrieved from

This organization strives for ecologically sustainable public spaces and parks around the Canal and is often looking for people to join their team. This type of employment opportunities are fitting for the area seeing as though there is an obvious need for the canal to be cleaned. This source fits well with our research questions because these types of employment opportunities are essential to the area especially if the clean-up could be beneficial to the residential community that is slowly taking over.

Neighborhood Trends and Insights (September 2013) retrieved from

This source gives a visual representation of the types of professions available around the Gowanus. The occupations vary from healthcare professionals to manufacturing jobs as well as arts and entertainment sectors. It helps to better visualize what jobs are available and hypothesize whether or not our research questions affect these occupations in any way as a result of the clean-up in the Gowanus Canal.

Jobs in Brooklyn, NY 11231. (n.d.). Retrieved from

This source is relevant to the presentation because it showcases current job postings for the zip code area around the Gowanus Canal up to a 5-mile radius. It shows the diversity and need for employees in the area and how businesses are currently fighting for the neighborhood. What used to be a concentrated industrial community is continuing to shift into a more creative and diverse neighborhood with evolving needs for employees.


Ronella Parma:

United States. Census Bureau. “ACS Demographic and Housing Estimates”. New York City: GPO 2018. Web,11231,11217&hidePreview=false&tid=ACSDP5Y2018.DP05&vintage=2018&layer=VT_2018_860_00_PY_D1&cid=DP05_0001E&mode=selection Accessed on 16, April 2020.

The United States Census Bureau provides us with demographic data and analysis of the Gowan Canal neighborhoods and its adjoining neighborhoods (zip codes 11215, 11231 and 11217). Not only is the data presented from an official office and is trustworthy, the neighborhood’s demographic data is broken down into various categories for further analysis and comparison. This data will assist us in answering our research questions as it will aid us to present data to support the increase in the Gowanus Canal residential growth. We will also use this data to show the changes in the neighborhood in comparison to how near one is to the canal.

NYCEDC Economic Research & Analysis “Neighborhood Trends & Insights” September 2013. PDF Accessed on 16, April 2020

In this document showing the neighborhood trends and insights, provided by the New York City Economic Development Corporation Economic Research, we will use the neighborhood’s analysis by developers to show a brief history of data for the Gowanus canal to support our research question of how the canal’s cleaning will impact the residential and industrial communities. With a developer’s analysis of the neighborhood, we are able to see how the canal affects the development of the neighborhood and whether the canal’s cleaning will help either the residential aspect of the community or the industrial, or possibly both. This document also provides an analysis of the neighborhood’s housing values, resident employment, economy and businesses.

Enman, Scott. “Gowanus Canal Cleanup to officially start in September”. 4, February 2020. Web Accessed on 18, April 2020.

Writer Scott Enman explains the Gowanus Canal is now set to be cleaned in September 2020, giving us valuable information to show the previous cleanup efforts and timelines for the Gowanus canal as well as providing the future of the canal’s cleaning. This article will aid us in answering our research question as it shows what we may expect of the Gowanus Canal in the future and helps us to provide recommendations for further studies. With this article we can draw references to the previous instances where the canal was set to be clean but was actually never done compared to now and if we think this cleaning will occur as well as if this is an effort to further a residential community or an effort to excite businesses.

 “Environmental Resources”. Accessed on 17 April 2020.

Gowanus by design, an organization, is an important source and reference for our group as this website spoke about the history of the Gowanus canal in terms of it becoming a superfund site as well as spoke to the status of the Gowanus Canal cleaning. The photos also used in this site were helpful to our group as they showed the importance of the Gowanus canal in relation to the city’s gas plants and population. This site helped us to further explain how the Gowanus became populated and why ConEd among other companies are held responsible for the canal’s toxicity. This website also addresses the concerns of CSO as we were seeking further sources to help us explain the damage to the Gowanus canal is not simply from the past but is still occurring today.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Archived Photograph of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle Paper. 15, October 1905. Accessed on 17 April 2020.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle provided us with a news clipping from 1905 which spoke to the cleaning of the Gowanus canal. Although only a few words long, this clipping helped us to show the importance of the cleaning and the efforts throughout the years to get the canal cleaned. This news clipping also showed the city’s residents actively seeking the canal’s cleaning and helped us to prove our claims that the Gowanus has been a 150-year journey which has been the same repeating cycle, including the city’s lack of activity to help clean the canal and its avoidance of hearing the residents. We found this to be an important source as it’s not someone’s reflection or idea about the canal but simply a newspaper reporting on the current status of the canal, especially in 1905.

Thank You,

Team 4

Gowanus Canal Article Reflection

Writer Alexious provided a well-needed description of the history for the Gowanus which included the exposing the push and pull between the community/ environmental concerns and the developers concerns and interest. While the developers were only looking for real estate to build and looking out for their wallet, the community was and still is begging for a clean environment. When asked how can New York do things differently, it’s my believe that getting on the same page seems crucial! In all decisions, compromises must be made, it is essential to create a plan even one to simply begin to tackle the pollution of the Gowanus canal as without it, we’ll never get anywhere. Alexious stated the city pollution adds to the problem of the Gowanus canal, especially the CSO. To me, this means its the city hurting it’s Brooklyn residents and simply leaving them to punish, While it’s agreed, living in New York is hard and finding somewhere to live extremely difficult that does not mean we should let New Yorkers suffer and risk their health in the very place they live. Simply because some people cannot afford to live in certain neighborhoods does not mean they should have to put up with a disgusting and unsafe environment.  It’s my firm belief that just as we have a right to a safe workplace, it should be critical for the people of any city (not just Brooklyn) to have a safe living environment especially when it’s the city and government’s lack of action which made the environment and area hazardous! Clean should mean your health isn’t at risk from simply being outside or after a simple rain storm! When we visited the Gowanus canal in the winter the smell was horrid, I cannot imagine the condition of the community around the canal during the hot summers.

Film Series and Special Lecture Reflection

Describe the way each film (My Brooklyn, Citizen Jane, Human Scale) and the lecture presentation (Healing Spaces: Marching On! Blackness and the Spatial Politics of Performance) discuss public space and its role in cities. Which notion of public space appeals to you? How to you feel about public space in New York City?

The films My Brooklyn, Citizen Jane and Human Scale as well as the special lecture, Healing Spaces: March On! all encompassed the role of cities and public space in their respective cities. In “My Brooklyn,” this film showcased how gentrification and the up-scaling of downtown Brooklyn dramatically changed the neighborhood and the fight to preserve its history. Citizen Jane addressed the idea of the city spaces being “about the people, not buildings” and defined the changing of the city to be a “sacking of cities.” The film, Human Scale addressed the renovating of New York City with the idea of making the city more conducive to modern life. This film bought up the notation of “you measure what you care about,” which resonated with me as I believe this statement is true on all levels from personal to governments and cities. All three films showed the resistance bought about in each circumstance and the people fighting on both ends. In the special lecture, the Marchign CObra also utilized public spaces for their practices and their final performance to make a statement.  Not only did they showcase a beautiful performance but the public space in which they chose to perform un also helped to convey their message. The notations of “sacking of cities” and “measure of what you care about” appeals to me because I enjoy the public spaces in New York and I found it interesting to see how we got these places in the midst of roaring skyscrapers. I especially enjoy the public spaces in Times Space (shown in Human Scale) as I have used these spaces before to sit and relax among the business of Times Square, I find it beautiful to see the stark contrast.


How would you rate your level of experience doing research in college?

I believe my level of experience doing research in college is advanced due  to completing many research papers in my college experience so far. I have completed many computer science and writing research papers for my writing and major classes.


What is your expectation for this class supporting your classes in your major?

I expect this class will help my major by providing real world experience and a different learning environment outside of the virtual world (behind a computer screen). I believe this class with equip me with general knowledge of our city to give me a well rounded education.