From 2005 to 2009, I lived one block from the famously polluted Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY. Created in 1848, the canal reaches a mile and a half inland from New York Bay and separates the tony neighborhoods of Carroll Gardens and Park Slope. Once the busiest commercial canal in America, it was largely left to its own devices for the second half of the twentieth century. Today, it is both a dreamscape for real estate developers and a Superfund site nominee.
To me, it is an irresistible place. I have walked along and around and over the Gowanus countless times, and have even taken canoe rides on the canal. It never once looked the same, nor will it look like this ever again.