The Gowanus Canal is a man-made body of water running through almost two miles of Brooklyn, primarily the neighborhoods of Gowanus, Red Hook, Carroll Gardens and Park Slope. It was constructed in the mid-1800s to serve as a shipping route; however, the waterway has been severely polluted since the beginning of the 1900s.
In addition to being an EPA Superfund site since 2009 and the recipient of extensive remediation efforts, the Gowanus Canal is also canoe-friendly. The waterway is the focus of a number of thriving community groups, including the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club.
This volunteer-run organization intends to “contribute to transforming a dilapidated, historically significant estuary into a self-sustaining, environmentally friendly and healthy waterfront to be enjoyed and treasured by current and future generations.” In line with this mission, they run canoe trips on the canal to raise awareness of the issues surrounding the waterway and increase public access to the waterfront. Throughout the summer the group is offering free, walk-up canoeing at the 2nd Street launch near Bond Street in Brooklyn. Details are available on the website.