The Sunday Edition

150 million tons of reeking garbage now holds up a park

Fresh Kills on Staten Island, the largest landfill in the world, was once home to filthy, slimy, stinking mountains of household trash. The only wildlife it attracted was rats, maggots and scavenging gulls. Now, the place called Fresh Kills is a rolling savannah filled with birds, animals, and soon, with people. Alisa Siegel's documentary is called "What's Down Below."
Fresh Kills on Staten Island was once the world's largest landfill. Today, it's a grassland park. (L: Creative Commons/R: Alex Maclean. Photo courtesy of Freshkills Park and the City of New York)

If the sheer size of it didn't take your breath away, the stink would. Every time.

Fresh Kills was once the largest landfill in the world. 2200 acres that took in all of of New York City's garbage. 150 million tons of trash between1948 to 2001. Wrap your head around that.150 millions tons.

And then wrap it around this. That gargantuan and malodorous heap is now in the process of being transformed into something truly beautiful. 

It's not the first landfill-to-park project. There are others: in Hong Kong, Singapore, Tel Aviv, and Virginia's own aptly-named Mt Trashmore.

But Fresh Kills is by far the biggest. 

And the world is watching. 

Alisa Siegel ventured to Fresh Kills earlier this fall. Here is her documentary, What's Down Below.

Click the button above to hear Alisa Siegel's documentary on Fresh Kills. 


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