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Constructed in the 1860s, the 1.5-mile-long Gowanus Canal was once a bustling commercial waterway, used to transport cargo to and from oil plants, dye manufacturers, and other factories in the Brooklyn neighborhood. But with the area’s industrial decline after World War II and the transition from shipping to trucking, the neighborhood’s eponymous canal—which connects to the Upper New York Bay—was left to decay. Decades of factory waste and sewage runoff resulted in murky, malodorous waters, earning the canal the nickname "Lavender Lake" for its Technicolor sheen. However, public officials and community groups have since made efforts to revitalize the long-ignored canal. The reactivation of the Flushing Tunnel and Pumping Station has brought fresh water into the canal for the first time since the sixties, allowing oysters, jellyfish, and horseshoe crabs to return to the once-barren region. And community recreation programs along the Gowanus, like canoeing and guided bike and walking tours, are designed to promote the area’s continued progress.Bridges
A number of bridges span the canal, including the historic Carroll Street Bridge—which was built in 1889 and is one of just four remaining retractile bridges in the country—and another carrying the F and G trains into the Smith-9th Streets station, which boasts the highest elevation of any in the subway system.