Over the years I heard all kind of stories about the reputation of the Gowanus Canal. You never knew what you might see in its waters. But on this beautiful day, I saw the worst, a human body.
I had gained a fascination with this putrid, stinking body of water that cuts through my neighborhood in Brooklyn. Sort of hidden from the beauty of Brownstone Brooklyn, the canal was surrounded by industrial buildings nestled in the lowlands between the gentrified neighborhoods of Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Park Slope. It was a nowhere land with a toxic history. Today, it is a Superfund site.
My friend and colleague Kevin Larkin came with me to the Carroll Street Bridge over the Gowanus Canal so I could shoot a 360° photo of the bridge. You didn’t hang out on the Gowanus with expensive equipment alone for hours.
The Carroll Street Bridge is unique. One of the last drawbridges built to move laterally off the water, it’s architecture is truly spectacular with a dainty little brick house for the bridge tender. We were packing up equipment to leave when Kevin called me over to the bridge railing.
“Take a look at what that is floating in the water,” said Kevin. We could see a shape but couldn’t tell from the distance what it was. I pulled a telephoto lens and focused on the shape.
“Oh shit,” I said as I realized what we were looking at. I focused the length of the shape and realized the heels of shoes breaking the surface of the water were definitely attached to the feet of a body.