From Garbage Hole to Park

Turning a New York landfill into a park may just reorganize the way people think about public parks in America.

"The sky, when viewed from atop a twenty-story heap of slowly decomposing garbage-the so-called South Mound, a Tribeca-size drumlin surrounded by other trash mounds, some as long as a mile-is the kind of big blue that you expect to see somewhere else, like the middle of Missouri. It's a great wide-open bowl, fringed with green hills (some real, some garbage-filled) that are some of the highest points on the Atlantic seaboard south of Maine."

"But as you look a little longer, it's definitely not a Missouri view, and the unmistakable landmarks come into focus: a tower on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, a span of the Outerbridge Crossing, and, on Coney Island, the very top of the parachute jump. In the foreground, trucks enter the landfill, climbing the mounds and dumping clean soil over not-so-clean soil. It's all part of a radical plan to turn Fresh Kills landfill into Fresh Kills Park, with mountain bikers and kayakers and ballplayers sharing 2,315 acres of open space with restored maritime forests, with chestnut trees dotting dry prairies, with new or revived sweet-gum swamps, maybe a fox scooting through persimmon copses or a deer through a new birch thicket."

"The composer of this massive reclamation project is James Corner, the landscape architect best known in New York as the designer of the High Line. When that abandoned elevated railway turned inner-city park opens its first section this winter, its industrially influenced meadows, interstitial urban prairies, and sundecks will bring Corner's firm, Field Operations, a new round of international attention. But as celebrated as the High Line will probably be, it is Field Operations' other New York park-the one that's bigger than lower Manhattan, and currently about the height of Mexico's Great Pyramid of Cholula-that may change people's ideas of what a park is all about."

Full Story: Wall-E Park

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