Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thursday Must Read: The Gowanus as Playground

Carroll Gardens blogger Pardon Me For Asking has a superb post today featuring the writing and recollections of a reader about growing up around the Gowanus Canal in the 1960s. It is special. We're excerpting a few lines below, but if you have a few minutes to spend on reading something enjoyable today, then devote it to this post:
The Gowanus Canal used to be a great place to play...we used to jump on the sand and gravel barges. Pretty dumb now that I think about it, but you know, kids will be kids. The canal was absolutely filthy. On warm days, you could smell it for a half a mile or more. One time, my friends and I constructed a make-shift raft and paddled our way around the passage of the canal as far up as the Hamilton Avenue drawbridge. Each stroke of our paddles drew up such an awful smell that we figured it wasn't worth the adventure and gave up. I can recall when I was really young, my father telling me that the man-made canal was actually a dry trench where mules used to pull coal and other materials. The mule team rider would crack his whip at them as the animals struggled with their heavy load. He would yell out GO ON ASS!!! GO ON ASS!!! Hence the name "Gowanus."
So that's how the canal got it's name.

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Blogger Matt Farrell said...

Bah, totally not true. As I understand it, Gowanus is the anglicized name of a Native American who used to live down near the creak that became the Gowanus Canal.

10:44 AM  

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