"This well-researched, jauntily written, knowledgeable book explains a lot about our funky, much-abused, lovable waterway, not only to those like myself who live near its shores, but to anyone with an appetite for urban history and a desire to fathom the dramatic, contradictory transformations affecting metropolises today."
—Phillip Lopate, author of Waterfront
"As dark and sludgy as the waters of the Gowanus Canal are, Joseph Alexiou makes them into a brilliant mirror of urban history. In his skillful hands, the canal provides an incisive and entirely unexpected way of understanding Brooklyn—and, more broadly, American cities—from native peoples through factory owners, speculators, gangsters, brownstone bourgeoisie, and body-art hipsters. Here is a book of relentless research and narrative elan."
—Samuel G. Freedman, Columbia University
"Who could have thought a curious, 1.8 mile long New York waterway would have such a fun, fascinating, hidden history? Journalist Joseph Alexiou brings Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal to life with all its gore, political ramifications, and gentrified glory. An intelligent and impressive debut."
—Susan Shapiro, author of The Bosnia List
"Alexiou's narrative is well-researched and moves along in a confident and lively manner...The author presents an unusually well-defined case history of the interaction of the private and public sectors generating growth and prosperity through a unique piece of urban infrastructure at a terrible environmental cost that still has not been fully addressed."
"Alexiou takes a figurative dive into the infamously polluted Gowanus Creek in this engrossing narrative of Brooklyn's development amid shifting economic cycles, waves of immigration, urban decay, and its current renewal…Alexiou draws profound and amusing comparisons between the historical Gowanus and the Brooklyn of today as he looks at population, city politics, and the ways humans both rely upon and shortsightedly destroy nature."
"In Gowanus, Joseph Alexiou handles this complicated waterway's history with admirable finesse, dogged research, and an enthusiasm as infectious as his subject."
"This is a loving and skillfully rendered portrait of an important and oddly charming part of New York."
—New York Times Book Review
"The Gowanus Canal may never evoke Venice, but within a few decades, developers are betting, people will be paying a high premium to inhabit its banks. Until then, readers can get a historical view through Joseph Alexiou's edifying Gowanus."
—New York Times "Metropolitan"
"Gowanus has an urgency that few history books possess; its last pages take you to a modern, thriving neighborhood in an unstable relationship with the body of water that defines it."
“Journalist Alexiou has merged a mass of personal accounts, letters, municipal records, maps, interviews, scholarly research, and more into an engaging narrative that conveys unbridled enthusiasm for its subject while never taking itself too seriously.”
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