The site of what once was the world’s largest landfill has found new life as the Freshkills Park, almost three times the size of Central Park and the largest park developed by New York City in more than 100 years.
During its peak, the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island received 20 barges carrying 650 tons of garbage each day; by 2001, it was 225 feet high and could be seen from space.
It was officially closed in 2001, and work began to turn the rotting, stinking mess into usable, green space. Half of the mounds were covered with impermeable caps in 1997, and the rest of the mounds will be capped by 2014.
While 45 percent of the park was once used for landfill operations, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation says the rest of the space is wetlands, waterways and unfilled lowland areas.
Even though the full build-out of the park is expected to take 30 years, New Yorkers can already take tours of the park – March features a birding tour – and students can learn all about waste reduction, recycling and remediation at the park.