A couple of weeks ago I went to a spot on the east side Duwamish River that I didn’t know existed. Much of what I have posted, regarding the Duwamish River over the years, has been taken from the west side at various locations. The Port of Seattle owns this access point, adjacent to the new Federal Building above ( something else I had no idea existed as it is set quite a ways back from East Marginal Way).
This area, like many along the Duwamish River, used to be inhabited by indigenous peoples. Rich in history that is almost totally overlooked by Seattleites today. I know the signs are not readable in the photos, but if you can zoom in and maybe find a few keywords to Google, you might be able to dive deeper into the history of this area. The Duwamish River used to snake its way down to Elliott Bay, but in the past ( probably for reasons of commerce) the river’s curvy path was straightened out to what it is today.
The Duwamish River, which I find fascinating, is the first EPA Superfund Site in the US and is still a work in progress 47 years on. This says something about the scope of cleaning a river estuary. Although the area is much cleaner and less polluted today, it still has a way to go. Many of the heavy polluting businesses that were located along the river have since moved or closed down. I think dredging the river bottom is not a possibility as it would stir up much of the heavy metals, etc. Similarly, in Brooklyn, NYC, I have been following the efforts to clean up the Gowanus Canal, which was declared a superfund site a few years ago. This past Fall, a Portland, Oregon company was awarded the first contract to do a superficial dredging to remove debris that was sitting on the bottom of one small section of the canal, without disturbing the sediment. I was there the week this was being done. It was just a pilot project, but was fascinating to watch. A rep from the Portland company was on site to both watch over the pilot dredging, but to be available to answer questions from the public ( such as me, who pestered her for about 30 minutes, till it started to rain). The Portland company actually contracted with the company that dredged the Love Canal decades ago, as they had the expertise and equipment to perform this sensitive work. With the new administration coming in last January, all work on the Gowanus Canal is up in the air, even though monies were allocated to get the project going.
If interested, there is a lot of info online. If you dig back in my posts to around last November ( 11th and 13th) I think I posted a few photos of the initial dredging of the small section of the Gowanus Canal. I also did a couple of Facebook check-in type postings showing the barge and crane at work.
Will be posting more from this site on the Duwamish River over the next couple of weeks. My apologies for getting a bit sidetracked. There are similarities between the two sites that I find fascinating.
Location: Park Slope, Brooklyn. On a bright, sunny day the park lights were one, which made for an interesting glow. In the right, from the 3rd St. bridge in Gowanus Canal about three blocks from where our son and family live, is a view of the new, luxury apartments build right on the EPA Superfund site of Gowanus Canal. I’m not sure how the developer wrangled a green light to develop on this site, but since this is NYC, I would imagine some money exchanged hands and all was good. The Canal has been designated a Superfund site since 2007 and only the week I was visiting were they starting the first pilot debris removal from one section of the canal called “the turnaround ” adjacent to the Whole Foods store that just went in a few years ago ( that’s another story). What may look like an idyllic location in this image is actually a very toxic ( heavy metals, tar oil, etc) waterway which, on heavy rain days, raw, untreated sewage flows into. Then there is the smell, something you would never forget. On hot days the canal becomes this stagnant, heated cesspool that has an odor you would never forget. On this day it was pretty mild, but still can be shocking to non-residents walking through. I have read that the starting rents on the one bedroom apartments is $4500.00 per month! One more dynamic to consider: during Superstorm Sandy the area flooded. The water came up over the banks of the canal and ran uphill about one block, which would put the first floor apartments at risk in the event of another big storm. You can see some videos of Gowanus and the storm on YouTube. Very crazy.
The mural covered the length of this one story building. I didn’t have a true wide angle lens on the camera at the time, so did my best. While I was standing in the street shooting, this FedEx truck stopped. I was thinking he was just being polite about not interrupting my shoot, but it turns out he wanted his photo taken. He stuck his head out the window and yelled out to me: “Hey, take my picture”! Brooklyn, you gotta love it :-).