Sections

A parade for the Gowanus? Look, this is Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Leave it up to Brooklyn’s party animals to celebrate the centennial of the Gowanus Canal’s “flushing tunnel,” a bit of infrastructure that has been about as much use as a handbrake on a canoe.

The drainage system was installed 100 years ago in the Gowanus Canal to clean up the waterway and reduce its stench — a prospect welcomed on June 21, 1911, with bunting, speeches, a huge street parade and the crowning of a 9-year-old “Miss Gowanus,” who floated out on a barge to cheers and cast lilies upon the murky waters.

These days, it’s still difficult to stroll along the waterway without holding your nose, but that didn’t stop area residents from marking its 100-year milestone on Tuesday with a replication of the original ceremony, complete with a parade, a flower-toss and the crowning of not one, but several “Miss Gowanuses.”

Area residents poured into Butler Street behind the old pumping station, and marched down Bond to the Union Street Bridge to hoot-n-holler at the pageant girls and other festive floaters who threw white lilies into the canal from a barge — a multi-sensory spectacle co-presented by Urban Divers and Proteus Gowanus.

The merrymaking continued later with refreshments at Proteus Gowanus, but not everyone was in the party mood.

“That tunnel didn’t do a bit of good, the canal still stinks to high heaven,” lamented Dora Rodriguez, who lives a few blocks away, and says that she longs for a time when she can breathe fresh air as she walks along the choke-point.

The flushing tunnel was re-activated in 1999 when the original one broke down after 50 years. Last year, the feds declared the Gowanus Canal a Superfund site and left the Environmental Protection Agency in charge.

That agency discovered contamination all along the 1.8 mile stretch, including toxins, metals and pesticides — a scourge it is hoping to overturn with an oxygenation system and fines for polluters.

Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reader Feedback

Soured from Red Hook says:
Why aren't those kids zipped-up in full-body HAZ-MAT gear?
June 28, 2011, 12:12 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!