The park and former landfill still aren’t particularly attractive, but they restore habitats to help New York City’s people and wildlife.
So far, Freshkills Park is barely ready to welcome visitors, with few signage. And it’s a long ride from Manhattan by public transportation.
The drive route isn’t much easier, with drivers having to navigate their way to a junction between a highway, a warehouse and a Staten Island hotel before reaching a large rust-colored pillar that reads ” Freshkills Park.
So it’s no surprise that the site saw relatively few visitors last year, but if you ask Sue Donoghue, manager of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, that’s about to change.
“This transformational project will serve as a model for land reuse projects around the world and a shining example of how habitat restoration can benefit wildlife in urban areas,” she says.
The park shows that rebirth of a place is possible after such negative connotations in the past, she said, welcoming the fact that Freshkills is now the exact opposite of what it once was.
At times the park, in the center of Staten Island, was the largest landfill in the world, according to Donoghue’s office.
Once a saltwater swamp where children swam in summer, it was turned into a landfill in 1948.
In 2001, it housed approximately 150 million tons of waste, brought mostly by ship from households in the New York metropolitan area.
The waste gradually piled up into towering mountains, some taller than the Statue of Liberty, which stood nearby on another island in New York Harbor.
With the trash came a stench, traffic – and a bad reputation for Staten Island, still often referred to as “New York’s forgotten fifth borough.”
The entire island is just a huge dump, residents of other neighborhoods often said.
Authorities succeeded in closing the landfill in 2001, following decades-long calls from activists, and that’s when hopes began to turn the site into a public park.
Two decades later, the…