Gowanus Canal

First visits to: Carroll Street Bridge, Union Street Bridge, 3rd Street Bridge, 9th Street Bridge, Hamilton Avenue Bridge & Gowanus Expressway Bridge

Route Map            More Photos on Facebook   (click on any photo to enlarge it)

Canoeing on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn is promoted by The Gowanus Dredgers.  The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn is surprising in many ways. It sits as a kind of border between residential neighborhoods and industrial zones. Despite its polluted waters, there are freshwater natural springs that drain clean, drinkable, water into it and schools of fish congregate in these pockets of clean water.  The fish attract birds like the heron we saw along the way. And wait, was that a parrot?  Yes, there is a flock of wild parrots that live in Brooklyn.  The first ones were being shipped into the USA by plane, and their carrier was dropped — and it fell open — at JFK.  Since then, they have multiplied and, to the dismay of Con Edison, they like to build nests on electrical electrical poles, where it is warm.  And where they often start fires.  If you can figure out a way to keep them from nesting on electric poles, I hear ConEd is offering a reward….

Anyway, this is about the bridges.  Five of the six bridges on the Gowanus Canal are drawbridges, which can be opened with two hours’ notice.  In case you need to have one opened, here is the number to call.

Here are the bridges:

The Union Street Bridge

The Carroll Street Bridge

The Third Street Bridge

The 9th Street Bridge, with its upper and lower spans

The Gowanus Expressway Bridge (above) with the Hamilton Avenue Bridge (below)

The Hamilton Avenue Bridge

Some of the sights along the way:

A very odd place for a hobby horse . . .

Paddling past a giant barge

Paddling through an oil slick

How much can you love NYC if you let trash and oil pollute its waterways?

After a couple of hours on the canal, we returned the boat and went in search of dinner. We found some cool local art on 2nd Street and a great Middle Eastern restaurant on Smith Street.


Many thanks to Ray Howell and Paul Ryan for their passionate and tireless efforts stewarding the canal and acting as neighborhood environmental activists.  As more residential development comes into the neighborhood around the canal, they are at the forefront of efforts to improve sewage infrastructure and access so that the Gowanus Canal is healthy and enjoyable for everyone.