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Friday, September 16, 2011

Not Under the Gowanus

There's romance to the classic song Under the Boardwalk - the lyrics describe a tryst under the boardwalk in beloved Coney Island. But not every hiding place under an elevated structure is so romantic, particularly in New York City. I certainly would not want to meet anyone under the Gowanus Expressway, a highway elevated above 3rd Avenue in Brooklyn.

The word Gowanus does not have a very nice ring to it, certainly not to a New Yorker who knows the Gowanus Expressway or the Gowanus Canal. Even the word itself seems unpleasant to me, if perhaps only by a long association. If you read the Wikipedia entry on the thoroughfare, you will not get the true picture. Take a look at the photos and see this offense to all things visual.

For those who despise Robert Moses - and there are many - the Gowanus Expressway, built under his auspices, could easily be the poster child for the dark side of urban development. Deterioration has only added insult to injury. It does provide a much needed connection between various boroughs and through Brooklyn, but at a very hefty price, particularly aesthetic. The highway as seen from street level is hideous, blocks light, and dominates the avenue. There have been talks and plans over the years of taking the elevated structure down and replacing it with a tunnel, but, to date, nothing has been decided.

This city really is a course in juxtaposition. The good abuts the bad, the beautiful abuts the ugly, the polished rubs against the rough. Clean meets filthy and rats run everywhere, unfettered by neighborhood or income. I should not have been so surprised to find these abandoned cars and burnt remnants under the expressway, but the whole scene was particularly shocking owing to the fact that I spent the afternoon in Greenwood Cemetery.

Around every corner there is often a surprise, and I had just photographed a beautiful structure that has plagued me for years. It was a small surprise, and I will show you that soon. And it's just a short trip around the corner, Not Under the Gowanus :)

Related Posts: A Story About Nothing, There's Nothing Here, Del Floria's


s.c said...

Well it looks surely a bit desparated. But great shots of a edgy part of town.thanks for showing

Sérgio Pontes said...

I like the shots also


Chicken Underwear said...

@ s.c.

It was not an edgy part of town before the highway was built.

Lucy said...

All those layers of soot and grit and unweildy flotsam and jetsam remind me of parts of the old NYC, almost so ugly and scary as to defy gentrification. Almost. There's a Twilight Zone quality to to those places. Good to see a contrast clearly depicted. It's like the backstage area of a Broadway show, lots of chaos and mess underneath the glamor.

Brian Dubé said...

Chicken Underwear - I am sure it was not. Even though it provides a useful thoroughfare, what a horrible eyesore and ultimate effect it has on the area.

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