May 29, 2013
Imagine taking the blinding advertising screens and countless pedestrian and cab traffic in Times Square and combining it with the quaint charm of the polluted Gowanus Canal to create a new public urban swimming pool. That’s basically what Osaka, Japan, is proposing as a way to clean up the Dotonbori Canal. Located in a Times Squarish nightlife and entertainment district, developers are hoping to transform the unsavory canal to spur gentrification in this gritty area. This ain’t no Plus Pool.
According to the Japan Times, the canal has garnered a reputation as a place for drunk Hanshin Tigers fans to occasionally take a refreshing late-night dip after a baseball game victory. It is also the site of a statue of Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Colonel Sanders. Once dim and polluted, the canal’s neighborhood has seen much transformation, including the construction of an Atlantic City-like boardwalk, to make the area more family-friendly. To stimulate further development, Dotonbori River Poolside Avenue, a private company, hopes to turn the canal into a 12-meter-wide, 800-meter-long swimming pool, effectively one of the largest in the world.
As one commentator on the Japan Times pointed out, the canal is also frequently graced by the urine of late-night revelers. A spokesman noted that the canal will be maintained and filled with purified city water, not canal water. However, we wonder if the partygoers will find a new place to, erm, celebrate publicly. If approved, the pool is set to be complete in 2015.