It is easy to say that one man started me on my path of discovery on the Gowanus Canal. Salvatore “Buddy” Scotto, who died on Sep. 11 at the age of 91, was that man.
It was the 1990s and no one really cared about the filthy Gowanus Canal. I had begun photographing the canal as a project in between my day job of professional sporting events, presidents and disasters. Then I met Buddy.
His passion about the area was infectious. He wanted to bring the politicians to the area and see its potential. And he dragged them to the canal for events on boats and on the historic Carroll Bridge. He helped bring about one of he first condo conversions in the area. He formed the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation to help facilitate the cleanup and development of the canal.
His daughter, Debra Scotto, told the Brooklyn Paper, ““He was just horrified that something that dirty and that awful could be flowing through his neighborhood. He was an environmentalist before his time.”
Buddy was a good friend and an advocate for the neighborhoods he cared about. Brooklyn has lost one of its bright voices.
Along with his daughter, Scotto is survived by his sister, Theresa, his son, Mark, and numerous grandchildren.
A memorial mass will be held Nov. 7 at noon at Sacred Heart-St. Stephens Church. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Carroll Gardens Association.