2020 opened with a bang on the Gowanus Canal.

On November 16, dignitaries gathered at the Carroll Street Bridge to kick off the start of dredging operations at the head of the waterway. “Today we mark the official start of a historic cleanup to address a legacy of hazardous waste and urban pollution that dates back to the 1800s,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez.

But with this good news also came the bad. The rezoning battles and landmarking of historic buildings fell short as developers began making their moves along the canal.

On my first visit to the canal since the pandemic struck, I had one of those "Oh No" moments when I drove across the historic Carroll Street Bridge and realized the graffiti covered wall was gone. Not just gone but obliterated like it had never been there.

Since 2016, the patch of graffiti on the former home of Alex Figliolia Water & Sewer, the 65,000-square-foot industrial building by the Carroll Street Bridge on the bank of the Gowanus Canal, welcomed visitors with the tagline ‘Welcome to Venice’ with the signature "Love Jerko." But just like the Canal itself, it became a victim of gentrification.

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.