Public Lab Wiki documentation

Freshkills Park

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Fresh Kills Park is part of New York City and the Northeast region.


Nick Johnson is investigating Freshkills Park, formerly Freshkills Landfill, as a part of an ongoing project titled Life of Trash, a project dedicated towards better understanding the invisible urban waste infrastructure and supporting community education and awareness around landfill activity.

View images of the last expedition



For over fifty years, trash from New York City was sent to Staten Island by barge to reach its final resting place, Freshkills Landfill. During its time, FreshKills Landfill was the largest landfill in the world, three times the size of Central Park, greater in volume than the Great Wall of China and visible from space. In 2001, the landfill was officially closed and efforts to turn this landfill into a public began. The process of landfill to park conversion began with capping the landfill's five mounds, a technical process which covers the waste with layers of clay, dirt and a synthetic membrane to prevent any waste from emerging from the landfill. The landfill conversion will be a thirty year project though sections of the park will become available earlier.

Freshkills Park is now focused on creating one of the most exciting parks in New York City. The vast landscape allows people to hike, canoe, ride bikes and birdwatch. Because of the park's peculiar nature, a great interest has arise around citizen science and how citizens can actively participate in understanding the environmental status of the park. This curiosity has initially begun with aerial photography which has not only yielded amazing aerial photographs and a unique map of the park, but has also provide the opportunity for citizens to explore the park first-hand and see what the area is really like. Each of these visits to the park is done in partnership with the New York City Parks Department which has an amazing and knowledgeable staff, excited and willing to share all of Freshkills Park's amazing story.

Christina Meilene has been participating in this project as well.