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Gowanus : Brooklyn S Curious Canal
by Joseph Alexiou


Overview - For more than 150 years, Brooklyn s Gowanus Canal has been called a cesspool, an industrial dumping ground, and a blemish on the face of the populous borough as well as one of the most important waterways in the history of New York harbor. Yet its true origins, man-made character, and importance to the city have been largely forgotten.Now, New York writer and guide Joseph Alexiou explores how the Gowanus creek a naturally-occurring tidal estuary that served as a conduit for transport and industry during the colonial era came to play an outsized role in the story of America s greatest city.  Read more...

 
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Overview
For more than 150 years, Brooklyn s Gowanus Canal has been called a cesspool, an industrial dumping ground, and a blemish on the face of the populous borough as well as one of the most important waterways in the history of New York harbor. Yet its true origins, man-made character, and importance to the city have been largely forgotten.Now, New York writer and guide Joseph Alexiou explores how the Gowanus creek a naturally-occurring tidal estuary that served as a conduit for transport and industry during the colonial era came to play an outsized role in the story of America s greatest city. From the earliest Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam, to nearby Revolutionary War skirmishes, or the opulence of the Gilded Age mansions that sprung up in its wake, historical changes to the Canal and the neighborhood that surround it have functioned as a microcosm of the story of Brooklyn s rapid nineteenth-century growth.Highlighting the biographies of nineteenth-century real estate moguls like Daniel Richards and Edwin C. Litchfield, Alexiou recalls the forgotten movers and shakers that laid the foundation of modern-day Brooklyn. As he details, the pollution, crime, and industry associated with the Gowanus stretch back far earlier than the twentieth century, and helped define the culture and unique character of this celebrated borough. The story of the Gowanus, like Brooklyn itself, is a tale of ambition and neglect, bursts of creative energy, and an inimitable character that has captured the imaginations of city-lovers around the world."

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781479892945
  • ISBN-10: 1479892947
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publish Date: October 2015
  • Page Count: 400
  • Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds


Related Categories

Books > History > United States - State & Local - Middle Atlantic

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-09-28
  • Reviewer: Staff

Alexiou, associate editor at Time Out New York, takes a figurative dive into the infamously polluted Gowanus Creek in this engrossing narrative of Brooklyn's development amid shifting economic cycles, waves of immigration, urban decay, and its current renewal. Much of Alexiou's meticulous research is derived from the archives of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and the Brooklyn Historical Society, and his chronological account runs from the waterway's early days as an inlet for ships transporting goods to Dutch settlers through its heavy manufacturing period and into its later classification as a national Superfund site. The canal itself becomes a character in the story, and Alexiou resurrects nearly forgotten figures such as Edwin Litchfield, the man who turned the creek into a canal, while exhuming incredible details of their personal lives. Among the other notable points of discussion are the shantytowns that grew along the canal, the mid-19th-century gang turf wars between Pointers and Creekers, and the arrival in the mid-1970s of artists and activists who precipitated the area's renewal. Alexiou draws profound and amusing comparisons between the historical Gowanus and the Brooklyn of today as he looks at population, city politics, and the ways humans both rely upon and shortsightedly destroy nature. Photos. (Oct.)

 
BAM Customer Reviews