Running Brooklyn: a frozen Gowanus Canal

For whatever reason, I love running over water. Hitting the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg, and Queensboro Bridges in a single run is one of my favorite routes.

That one gets saved for the super-long training runs, when I’m peaking – it’s easy to rack up 20 miles that way, and the views take the mind off the creakiness in the legs.

Gowanus pedestrian bridgesFor a “cheaper” thrill, I can look to our favorite South Brooklyn Superfund site, the Gowanus Canal, which is crisscrossed by five bridges accessible to pedestrians. (The Gowanus Expressway, above Fort Hamilton Avenue, is not as welcoming to foot traffic; the Culver Viaduct over Ninth Street is for the F and G.)

Last Sunday, the temperature was in the teens. The wind whipped my face but the chill kept the stench at bay.

I put together a virtual trip of the canal heading northbound …

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… and southbound, back toward open water.

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The industrial area around the Gowanus Canal has a lot of signs.

There are those that remind us of the days when drugs were a much bigger problem …


… of a time when bikes wouldn’t dare share the street …


… of some bygone but still beloved industries …


… and of days we’d rather forget, but can’t.


On a Sunday afternoon, it’s a quiet place for a run – there’s not a lot of traffic, although the cars that do come through tend to speed. The Canal is a great refresher after a few too many loops through Prospect Park.

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3 Responses to Running Brooklyn: a frozen Gowanus Canal

  1. michaelcairl says:

    Gowanus is a great place for a walk as well, with camera. You’re right, it’s quiet and full of references to the distant and recent past. Both banks of the Gowanus Canal are on the verge of great change so take it in now as a point of reference for what is to come. And don’t miss a little stage set of a street, Dennett Place, just west of Smith Street and the Culver Viaduct.

  2. Jenet Levy says:

    Engaging as always, Keith. And in the winter, you can’t smell it!

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