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The MIRACLE

Discovery is the sudden and unexpected realization of value to new comers, discoverers, and opportunity to the locals. I don’t believe anything unpeopled has ever been found. Things get corrupt, complicated, human in a jiffy. For instance, the Lenape Indians summering on a little Island between two big rivers sold the Dutch explorers something they didn’t own: Manhattan Island.

As soon as land and water access becomes part of the equation everybody gets inspired. The land around the Gowanus Creek has been discovered three or four times. George Washington found it. He discovered that the American troops were easy to kill when stuck up to their knees in the saltmarsh that bordered the creek. After the loss of the Battle of Brooklyn, except by local fisherman, the oysters where the size of dinner plates.

After the Civil War the industrial guys began to realize the advantage of shipping by inland waterways. So they discovered the Gowanus and widened the creek into a river, filled the saltmarshes with clay, put in bulkheads, and the place became the busiest waterway in America. The terminus of the Erie Canal.

All the brick and wood to build Brownstone Brooklyn as well as the oil to fuel the furnaces of the new homes came into the Gowanus Bay up the creek and down the canal. And when the railroads were built and tankers became enormous, modern, the Gowanus Canal was once again undiscovered. The water was filled with industrial offal, a turd that couldn’t be flushed, buried, or paved. There was no life in the river except for kily fish which survived in the top few inches and criminals who lived along the banks.

Old timers swear Carroll Street was the best bridge to drop a body off. It was so close to the water. A big man wouldn’t make much more than a kerplunk, only a kepplunk if it where tide high.

Timing is important, essential. If the miracle had happened before the criminal element had time to age, before the police had arrested people on the west, north, south, and east corners of the bridge, then the new discovers or rediscovers would not have dared to pause on the bridge to take pictures of horseshoe crabs, but by the time the Flushing Tunnel opened or really reopened, the time when Montie’s would be watched from the abandoned gas works to see if it were true that national level meetings at Prohibition Kings were taking place was barely a memory in some old men’s minds. The glory days were long gone and the thieves from the East, South, and West corners were doing time, and the man from the North, Bennie was waiting for sentencing.

The people from the adjoining Brownstone neighborhoods felt as though the river belonged to them. That they were the caretakers of its future. They hadn’t done anything reprehensible to obtain it. A guiltless takeover.

The river was on the verge of becoming something beautiful, and they deserved something beautiful because they were a good lot. Artists were paddling around in canoes. There was plenty to be excited about.

Prior to the Miracle, less than a month ago, Brownstoners crossed the Carroll Street Bridge only when necessary. Most went over Union Street, and now here they were, stopping to take photos.