5. The Creek Once Smelled Like a “Burning Cow”

As though the ghastly smells emanating from the gasoline, benzene, and raw sewage weren’t enough, the creek was also contaminated with animal fat. One of the most notorious stenches that permeated the neighborhood in 1855 originated from the Peter Van Iderstine plant, which turned the entrails of butchered animals (including at least one ten-ton circus elephant) into animal feed, fertilizer, and glue.

The company was charged with dumping animal fat into the canal in 1973, and it consequently closed in 1977. An EPA official told the New York Times that people had called their office complaining of “a smell like a burning cow.”