Can the Gowanus Canal Survive Its Renaissance?

Getting everything done will be difficult. Doing it while preserving the neighborhood’s patchwork charms — the artist studios and craft-makers, the surviving heavy industry, the hypnotic, sulfur-scented quiet of the canal on a Sunday morning — might be impossible.

“There’s something compelling happening in this place, the mix is interesting and creative and we want to preserve it,” said Brad Lander, the city councilman for most of the canal zone, who led an earlier two-year public planning effort. “That’s never easy in planning and zoning.”

Whatever happens next on the canal, it is a safe bet that many people will hate it. This tradition goes back, at least, to the 1850s, when Gowanus Creek was walled in to create the canal, said Joseph Alexiou, author of the…

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