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Brooklyn’s Toxic Past

The legacy of Brooklyn’s industrial past and the spectrum of pollution in which we live are captured in Robin Michals’ photography exhibition, “Toxic City: Brooklyn’s Brownfields,” at the Brooklyn Lyceum, 227 Fourth Avenue in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, October 25 through November 8.

The exhibit hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The public is invited free of charge. An artist’s reception will be held October 25 from 3-6 p.m.

The exhibition features 30 photographs of sites in Coney Island, DUMBO, East New York, East Williamsburg, Gowanus, Greenpoint, Red Hook, Sunset Park and Williamsburg where historic uses have saturated the soils and groundwater with a lasting toxicity.

To select the sites she photographed, Michals, a Park Slope resident who is an assistant professor of advertising design and graphic arts at New York City College of Technology, used the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Brownfield Remediation list as a starting point to determine what qualified as a brownfield or toxic site. In addition, she consulted old maps at the Brooklyn Historical Society.

Underscoring that the dichotomy of pristine and polluted is no longer a useful way of thinking, the exhibit will include photographs of sites in all phases of the clean-up process. Photographs of several completed remediation projects such as Pfizer and Lowe’s will be included as well as photographs of several sites undergoing remediation such as the Coney Island and Williamsburg Works manufactured gas plant sites.

The show will also feature photographs of as-yet unremediated sites that once housed gas plants, electrical powerhouses, petroleum facilities and manufacturing operations or were tainted by landfill or dumping. Because Brooklyn is a dense, crowded, place, many of these sites are in use in some form today despite their toxicity.

For more, visit www.e-arcades.com, e-mail robin@e-arcades.com or call 917-509-9516.

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