How Close Do You Live to a Toxic Waste Site? (Hint: Closer Than You Think)


The Gowanus Canal: toxic and beautiful. William Miller c/o
The Gowanus Canal: toxic and beautiful.
William Miller c/o


It really seems like there’s a map for everything these days. There’s a map that shows how promiscuous New Yorkers are (handily broken down by neighborhood). And there’s a map showing where all the dirtiest grocery stores are (this is not a map for the faint of heart, or for anyone grossed out by rodent feces i.e. all of us). And now there’s a map which makes it easy to see just how close you live (and work and play) near toxic waste. Fun! Maps are fun.

Gothamist tipped us off to a map  assembled by Property Shark, which gives a five borough, block by block breakdown showing where all the different environmentally compromised places are in New York. Some of the places with the most violations are sort of obvious—you’ve got your Superfund sites and your solid waste facilities and your oil storage facilities—and those places are where you’d expect them to be, centered around the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek and Coney Island Creek (home to the recent dolphin death). But the map also illuminates just how many different neighborhoods are affected by toxic waste at a micro level. There’s even been a substantial spill in Prospect Park! And a hazardous waste violation is on the same block as one of Brooklyn’s top public elementary schools! Sure, I could make an easy joke about school lunches here, but I won’t! Because it’s actually pretty disturbing. I guess this is one of those cases where it’s better to know that you work on a block that’s been known to indiscriminately dispose of hazardous waste, because then, suddenly, that terrible smell that emanates from the (otherwise perfectly nice) West Elm makes a lot of sense. It’s not that there’s a weird  time/space portal to another dimension full of garbage, it’s just that you’re inhaling a big breath of toxic waste! Oh, cool. Good to know!

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen

You can tell where the Gowanus Canal is based on the density of colorful, toxic stars.



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