On March 2, 2010, the EPA designated the Gowanus Canal a federal Superfund site.

The first developments followed.

Whole Foods opened a large parking lot on the shoreline with a small grocery store in December 2013 on a site formerly used for waste disposal and recycling. Just a year before, Hurricane Sandy flooded the entire area with storm surge overflowing the banks of the canal.

In April of 2016 the Lightstone Group opened a 700-unit multifamily residential development on the site of a former truck parking lot with 20% of the units reserved to affordable housing and a community facility space used by the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club.

Phase one of the EPA Superfund cleanup kicked off in December 2016 and involved removing large debris from the murky canal that was identified through sonar scanning. Phase two, a pilot project in the Fourth Street Basin, was the dredging and capping process, which involved placing a multi-layer protective cover on the canal’s floor to keep new debris from settling at the bottom. It proved successful, and the Superfund project went into high gear at the end of the decade.

All images are ©Mark D Phillips. Photos may be licensed and downloaded through our site.

Mark D Phillips' photographic collection documents his generational view of the Gowanus Canal from abandoned, industrial filth to the beginning of gentrification and the EPA's start to cleaning the Superfund site.

“I discovered the Gowanus Canal in 1989, an abandoned, desolate location in the heart of Brownstone Brooklyn. The more time I spent on its length, the more I came to love it,” said Phillips.

All images are ©Mark D Phillips. Photos may be licensed and downloaded through our site.