Fresh Kills Landfill
The Fresh Kills Landfill was a landfill
A landfill site , is a site for the disposal of waste materials by burial and is the oldest form of waste treatment...

 covering 2200 acres (890.3 ha) in the New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

Borough (New York City)
New York City, one of the largest cities in the world, is composed of five boroughs. Each borough now has the same boundaries as the county it is in. County governments were dissolved when the city consolidated in 1898, along with all city, town, and village governments within each county...

 of Staten Island
Staten Island
Staten Island is a borough of New York City, New York, United States, located in the southwest part of the city. Staten Island is separated from New Jersey by the Arthur Kill and the Kill Van Kull, and from the rest of New York by New York Bay...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The name comes from the landfill's location along the banks of the Fresh Kills
Fresh Kills
Fresh Kills is a stream and freshwater estuary in the western portion of the New York City borough of Staten Island...

An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

 in western Staten Island. The landfill was opened in 1947 as a temporary landfill, but eventually became New York City's principal landfill in the second half of the 20th century, and it was once the largest landfill, as well as man-made structure, in the world.

In October 2009, reclamation of the site began on a multi-phase, 30-year site development for reuse as Freshkills Park
Freshkills Park
Freshkills Park is a landfill reclamation project in Staten Island. At approximately , it purports to be the largest park developed in New York City in the past 100 years. Its construction began in October 2008 and will continue in phases for at least 30 years...



The landfill opened in 1947 in what was then a rural agricultural area. The initial plan for a temporary landfill called for Fresh Kills to be used for 20 years then developed as a multiuse area with residential, recreational, and industrial components.

At the peak of its operation, the contents of twenty barges – each carrying 650 tons of garbage – were added to the site every day. In 2001 the landfill was 25 meters taller than the Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886...

. Under local pressure and with support of the United States Environmental Protection Agency
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress...

 (EPA), the landfill site was closed on March 22, 2001, though it was temporarily reopened soon after (see below.)

Originally the land that the landfill was located on was a salt marsh. The subsoil was made up of clay, with sand and silt as the top layer of soil. The land still contains large amounts of wildlife within the boundaries of the landfill. There were tidal wetlands, forests, and freshwater wetlands.


Operations during the 1960s were conducted in three different locations named "Plant 1", "Plant 2", and "Brookfield Avenue." Plant #1 was located at the site of an old factory on the south side of junction of the Great Fresh Kills and Little Fresh Kills. It was reachable via Muldoon Avenue. Plant #2 was located a bit upstream on the north side of Fresh Kills near where Richmond Creek branches off. It was reachable from Victory Boulevard
Victory Boulevard
Victory Boulevard is a major thoroughfare on Staten Island, measuring approximately 8.0 miles and stretching from the west shore community of Travis to the upper east shore communities of St. George and Tompkinsville. In the late 1940s, the portion of Victory Boulevard between Richmond Avenue and...

. The Brookfield Avenue site was north of the Arthur Kill Road and Brookfield Avenue intersection.
Plant 1 was the administrative headquarters and also the main repair facility. Plant 1 and Plant 2 were marine unload operations. Barges arrived from the other boroughs (primarily Manhattan and Brooklyn). Garbage was picked up by a crane (called a "digger") using a clamshell bucket and deposited in a tracked side-dump vehicle called an "Athey wagon." (not related to equipment of the same name used for oil drilling) Two wagons were then pulled to the active dump site by tractor (Caterpillar D7, D8, D9) and emptied. The Plant 1 digger was electric but the Plant 2 one was steam powered. The diggers were supplemented by other cranes (mostly mounted on barges). A typical day would unload twelve barges (six at each plant). Operations were carried out from 8AM to midnight six days a week. The midnight to 8AM shift was maintenance.

To expand the Plant 2 operating area, a wooden trestle bridge was built across Fresh Kills creek. This allowed dumping east to Richmond Avenue. As the actual dump site moved further from paved roads, it become more difficult for trucks to unload. The Brookfield Avenue site was opened in 1966 and used exclusively for trucks.

The dump was in a state of flux. Original plans showed the dump with a twenty-year life span. One plan for the West Shore Expressway
New York State Route 440
New York State Route 440 is a state highway located entirely on Staten Island in New York City. The route acts as a connector between the two segments of New Jersey Route 440, running from the Staten Island community of Richmond Valley to the south to Port Richmond to the north...

 bridge included a tide gate which would have blocked Plant 2's marine access. The bridge, when finally built in 1959, actually enhanced operations. The bridge was finished long before the rest of the expressway and was used by workers to travel between the two plants.

Animals were a problem. Feral dog packs roamed the dump and were a hazard to employees. Rats also posed a problem. Attempts to suppress the population with poison failed. The area was declared a wild bird sanctuary and a number of hawks, falcons, and owls were brought in. The area became a popular spot for birdwatching. Because of the predatory birds, rat sightings, especially during the day, dropped dramatically.


After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Fresh Kills was temporarily in use as a sorting ground for roughly one third of the rubble from Ground Zero
World Trade Center site
The World Trade Center site , also known as "Ground Zero" after the September 11 attacks, sits on in Lower Manhattan in New York City...

. More than 1600 personal effects were retrieved during this time.
About two million tons of material obtained from Ground Zero was taken to the landfill for sorting. Thousands of detectives and forensic evidence specialists worked for over 1.7 million hours at Fresh Kills Landfill to try to recover remnants of the people killed in the attacks. A final count of 4,257 human remains were recovered, and from those, 300 people were identified. A memorial is being built to honor those that were not able to be identified in all of the debris from the attack. The remaining debris was buried in a 40 acres (161,874.4 m²) portion of the landfill; it is highly likely that this debris still contains fragmentary human remains.

Fresh Kills Park Project

The Fresh Kills site is to be transformed into reclaimed wetlands
Constructed wetland
A constructed wetland or wetpark is an artificial wetland, marsh or swamp created as a new or restored habitat for native and migratory wildlife, for anthropogenic discharge such as wastewater, stormwater runoff, or sewage treatment, for land reclamation after mining, refineries, or other...

, recreational facilities and landscaped public parkland
Landscape garden
The term landscape garden is often used to describe the English garden design style characteristic of the eighteenth century, that swept the Continent replacing the formal Renaissance garden and Garden à la française models. The work of Lancelot 'Capability' Brown is particularly influential.The...

, the largest expansion of the New York City parks since the development of the chain of parks in the Bronx during the 1890s. In January 2005, Staten Island Borough President
Borough president
Borough President is an elective office in each of the five boroughs of New York City.-Reasons for establishment:...

 James Molinaro
James Molinaro
James Molinaro is the current Borough President of Staten Island. He was born in the Lower East Side of Manhattan of Italian immigrants. He was one of six children, four brothers and two sisters....

 announced plans to open three roads leading out of the former landfill to regular traffic, as part of an effort to ease the road congestion. Construction on the actual park began in 2008. The three-phased development of the park, which will include a September 11 memorial, is expected to last 30 years. The draft Environmental Impact Statement
Environmental impact statement
An environmental impact statement , under United States environmental law, is a document required by the National Environmental Policy Act for certain actions "significantly affecting the quality of the human environment". An EIS is a tool for decision making...

 (EIS) was published for public review on 16 May 2008. As of mid- 2011, construction drawings for the first phase of development in the South Park section were being completed.

The Department of Parks and Recreation are responsible for implementing the plan for turning the landfill into a park. They are using a Draft Master Plan which integrates three aspects, programming, wildlife, and circulation and proposes five main parks, the Confluence, North Park, South Park, East Park, and West Park.

Fresh Kills Park will be three times the size of Central Park
Central Park
Central Park is a public park in the center of Manhattan in New York City, United States. The park initially opened in 1857, on of city-owned land. In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won a design competition to improve and expand the park with a plan they entitled the Greensward Plan...

. It will consist of a variety of public spaces and facilities for a multitude of activity types. The site is large enough to support many sports and programs including nature trails, horseback riding, mountain biking, community events, outdoor dining, sports fields and canoeing.

Staten Island Transfer Station

Staten Island Transfer Station is located on the site of the former Fresh Kills landfill near the old Plant #2 40.580267°N 74.193994°W The transfer station - an integral part of New York City's Solid Waste Management Plan - is expected to process an average of 900 tons per day of Staten Island-generated residential and municipal waste. The waste is compacted inside the 79000 square feet (7,339.3 m²) facility into sealed 12 feet (3.7 m) high by 20 feet (6.1 m) long intermodal shipping container
Intermodal freight transport
Intermodal freight transport involves the transportation of freight in an intermodal container or vehicle, using multiple modes of transportation , without any handling of the freight itself when changing modes. The method reduces cargo handling, and so improves security, reduces damages and...

s, which are then loaded, four containers each car, onto flatbed rail cars
A flatcar is a piece of railroad or railway rolling stock that consists of an open, flat deck on four or six wheels or a pair of trucks or bogies . The deck of the car can be wood or steel, and the sides of the deck can include pockets for stakes or tie-down points to secure loads...

 to be hauled by rail to a Republic Services landfill
A landfill site , is a site for the disposal of waste materials by burial and is the oldest form of waste treatment...

 in South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

. The eight mile (13 km) Staten Island Railway freight service which connects the facility to the national rail freight network via the Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge
Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge
The Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Railroad Bridge is a railroad-only, vertical lift bridge connecting Elizabethport, New Jersey and the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island. The bridge was built by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1959 to replace an older swing span...

was reactivated in April 2007, after it had been closed in 1991.

External links

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