We decided to make a documentary about Williamsburg because our office is here and many of us have been lurking these parts for upwards of a decade. What had once been a bargain neighborhood close to Manhattan, albeit with some dangerous amenities, has now flourished into quite the sophisticated outpost. The first wave of kids that came along put up curtains and dusted off the rubble, but soon the ambience chasers had migrated in en masse and totally remade the place. This sprucing made us happy. It also made property owners happy. People who were sitting on abandoned warehouses and old factories reaching all the way into Greenpoint realized their shit had turned to gold. But what we here at Vice didn't realize was that under all of this snazzy development was a subterranean environment heavily damaged by decades of industrial activity. And it wasn't just us--an ever younger and expanding population was tripping on in blissfully unaware of the residual toxicity harbored in a place increasingly known for art galleries, great bars, and restaurants.
So we sent Derrick to tour the high and low points of Brooklyn's boom: Williamsburg's Radiac, the faded glory of Newtown Creek, shady developers building on unhealthy ground at every turn, the surreal majesty of Greenpoint's sewage treatment and garbage transfer stations, plus the largest environmental disaster in the history of New York City--the Greenpoint Oil Spill. Toxic Brooklyn is the story of people coping with some fine Industrial Era leftovers--a tale filled with villains, suspicious maestros and buckets and buckets of toxic goop. Have fun!
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