two chinese empress trees flank the gowanus canal at the union street bridge in brooklyn. the color of the waterway is downright horrifying, and this week the contrast between the sludgy water and the purple trumpet-shaped flowers was enough to make me pause.
the empress trees themselves are a vestige of the canal’s shipping past, native to china where their seed pods were packed into ships carrying ceramics and used as protection for the precious cargo. as for the opaque waterway, the canal has been polluted from the moment of its completion in 1869. just two years ago the epa confirmed its status as toxic soup and declared it a superfund site. uncomfortable beauty, no?