The Gowanus Bridges: A Ranking

While I have Gowanus on my mind, here’s a ranking of bridges that take you over The Gowanus Canal from Carroll Gardens to Park Slope.

1)  Carroll St. Bridge: Charming and quiet.  This is the best way to cross the canal.  The walkway is wooden and you look directly at the canal from both sides–there are no huge factories in sight because the canal has a bend just north of Carroll St.  The configuration of the one-way streets leading to the bridge makes it very difficult for cars to reach it, meaning there’s hardly ever any traffic crossing it.  If you close your nose, look north, ignore the architecture of the nearby buildings, and imagine a passing kayak is a gondola, you could be in Venice.

2) 9th St. Bridge: Classy and functional.  This is the Scandanavia of bridges.  Recently repaved, the 9th St. Bridge is smooth like a baby’s bottom making it ideal for rollerbladers.  The bike lanes are extraordinarily wide making it the best passage for bikers.  There are three catches: 1) It’s two ways, so there’s lots of traffic.  Pedestrians must walk on the sidewalk when crossing this bridge.  2) The F train running on the overpass above is very loud.  3) The industry to the south is an eye-sore and fairly smelly.

3) Union St. Bridge: Location, location, location.  Union St. runs between the two most commercial sections of Carroll Gardens and Park Slope and the activity picks up more quickly on either side of it than it does on either side of any of the other bridges; therefore, it is the safest crossing.  However, the bridge is a metal grate making it terrible for bikes,  rollerblades, scooters, really anything with wheels that isn’t a car.  It stands alone as being the only bridge that I’ve witnessed elevating for the passage of a canal vessel (and this takes FOREVER) and being the only bridge where the traffic will actually get backed up, like it’s the BQE or something.

4) The 3rd St. Bridge: There’s a cement factory on the south side that is practically in the bridge.  Where there’s a cement factory, there are cement trucks.  Have you ever heard a cement truck fill up with cement?  It’s horrible.  It’s like a car without a muffler.  It roars inside your skull and makes you curse the Gowanus.  Nobody wants that.  Nobody.  The immediate streets on either side are dead and large.  I think once I saw tumbleweed.  It’s by far the least safe location at which to cross the canal.  Avoid this bridge as much as you can.  That is, until Whole Foods opens, and then it’ll rocket up to #1 faster than you can purchase organic, unbleached wheat flour.

[where: 11215, 11231]

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~ by jaredran on October 19, 2007.

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