Love that dirty water: The Gowanus Canal’s Carroll Street Bridge

Eye On Real Estate: It's a city landmark built in the 1880s

March 23, 2016 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The landmarked Carroll Street Bridge is the only wooden span in the city that handles car traffic. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
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Tainted Love.

That song by Soft Cell could serve as the sound track for a visit to the Gowanus Canal.

Just about everybody in Brooklyn is enamored of the dangerously dirty waterway, and rightfully so.

Yes, yes, we know — it’s so famously filthy that it’s a federal Superfund cleanup site. Perversely, that’s part of the canal’s mystique.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

If it weren’t so utterly polluted, we wouldn’t get to use expressions like “black mayonnaise” — which is what the ten-foot layer of coal tar, other industrial toxins and sewage at the bottom of the canal is called.

The poisonous waterway that wends its way through Gowanus (the neighborhood), Carroll Gardens and Red Hook down to Gowanus Bay offers vistas that are part urban decay, part upscale development and 100 percent mesmerizing.

And the five bridges that span the Gowanus Canal contribute to its picturesqueness.

We just photographed all five of them and some surrounding real estate so you can see for yourselves.

The one with the biggest wow factor is, of course, the Carroll Street Bridge, which was built in 1888 and 1889, and is made of wooden planks. It has been an individual city landmark since 1987.

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Sooo pretty. Sooo landmarked.

This is the only wooden bridge in New York City that handles car traffic. And to add to the Carroll Street Bridge’s historic aura, the adjacent roadbed is paved with cobblestones (okay, preservationists, we know you prefer the term “Belgian blocks”) like it was when the bridge was built.

This is a “retractile bridge” — it makes way for boats in the canal by rolling horizontally on wheels that are on steel tracks. It’s one of the oldest bridges of this type still in existence in the United States.

The beloved bridge is located near the border of Carroll Gardens and Gowanus. When it was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gave the city Department of Transportation more than $1.9 million to help pay for repairs.

A new apartment complex is being constructed by the Lightstone Group on one side of this bridge.

And when we turn and look in the other direction from this bridge, we see Downtown Brooklyn’s towers standing tall — and a partly sunken boat in the canal’s filthy water.


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