Away down town, where the atmosphere is hazy
From the smoke of the factories ascending to the sky
The smells, Oh! so horrid, would almost set you crazy.
But I’m told in that neighborhood the people seldom die.
‘Way up on the Slope all the people are complaining;
From the foul scented odors their health is quickly waning
And the smoke from the soft coal their linen it is staining
When the wind blows that way from Gowanus Canal.
When the wind blows east, when the wind blows west,
Or when it’s from the north or south, you never get a rest.
In summer or in winter, in the spring or in the fall,
You breathe the same old odors from Gowanus Canal.
from The Gowanus Canal Song, by Michael J. Shay, 1898