5. Gowanus Oysters Used to Be Over a Foot Long

A first person account by a Dutch missionary named Jasper Danckaerts, recounted in the book Gowanus: Brooklyn’s Curious Canal, describes Gowanus oysters in 1679 as “large and full, some of them not less than a foot long, and they grow sometimes ten, twelve and sixteen together, and are then like a piece of rock.” Danckaerts loved them so much, he called them “the best in the country,” and later found them to be better than those he had in Maryland and Virginia. Not all the oysters were eaten fresh however – some were pickled and sold throughout the colonies, while the shells were burned and used as fertilizer.