Tags: history

Bushwick-Inlet Park and How Community Advocacy Can Shape NYC’s Parks

Bushwick Inlet Park. Photo by Paul Warchol.

In November 2016, Mayor de Blasio reached an agreement to acquire the 11-acre CitiStorage site on the Williamsburg waterfront for $160 million. This parcel was the final piece needed to complete the 27-acre Bushwick-Inlet Park promised to North Brooklyn residents as part of the 2005 Rezoning Action.  

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A Park Many Hands Have Built: Understanding Freshkills as Maintenance Art

Image courtesy of onemorefoldedsunset.com.

Mierle Laderman Ukeles first toured Fresh Kills Landfill in 1977. She had just been appointed the New York Department of Sanitation’s first (and only) Artist-in-Residence. At that time, there were landfills in every borough except Manhattan, and Fresh Kills was known as the largest municipal landfill in the world.

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Freshkills Park, Fifteen Years after Landfill Closure

 

Fifteen years ago this week, the final barge of household garbage arrived at Fresh Kills Landfill. To celebrate this milestone, the website’s new interactive landfill-to-park timeline illustrates almost 100 years of changes in the area.

The last barge to Fresh Kills marked the end of 53 years of landfill operations.

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Capturing Change: Interview with Mariel Villeré

Just as the sun is beginning to think about setting, Mariel Villeré meets with small groups of photographers in a parking lot outside of the Freshkills Park site. As the park’s Manager for Programs, Arts and Grants, she began inviting people to tour and document the changing landscape in 2014.

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From Behind the Mounds: Abandoned Ship Graveyard in Our Backyard

Distant cousins of the Titanic are lying offshore just south of Freshkills Park’s West Mound. According to some, the Arthur Kill Ship Graveyard is an historical and haunted maritime marvel, ranking among the top ten of boat graveyards and separately, of out-of-the-way NYC curiosities.

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Gowanus Canal Cleanup

The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its cleanup plan for Gowanus Canal. The Brooklyn Canal, bound by Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, was declared a Superfund site in 2010 and communities have long been pushing for its cleanup.

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Coming this Fall to MCNY: “From Farm to City: Staten Island 1661-2012”

On September 15, 2012,  the Museum of the City of New York will inaugurate an exhibition entitled From Farm to City: Staten Island 1661-2012. Through the display of a treasure trove of maps, photographs and objects, the exhibit will explore Staten Island’s rich 351 year history and it’s transformation from a rural to urban landscape.

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How building subways helps build our parks

As work on Manhattan’s Second Avenue subway line progresses, those viewing the massively scaled operation may wonder, “where does all the excavated dirt and rock go?” In the past, the ‘muck’ from expanding subway lines and other construction projects has contributed to the building of Ellis Island, Governors Island and Battery Park City, among other city landmarks – including the expansion of the Manhattan shoreline.

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Ancient Roman landfill a model for modern-day reclamation

A recent look at a centuries-old landfill – the eighth hill of Rome – presents new insight into the variety of uses and cultural identities reclaimed landfills today might strive toward. On Places, architect Michael Ezban explores the history and current status of Monte Testaccio as an integral part of the Roman urban fabric.

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Geeky Garbage

This Monday Gelf Magazine, an NYC-based independent webzine “looking over the overlooked”, will host Geeky Garbage, a discussion about one of the most overlooked aspect of our daily lives — waste. On hand will be former Freshkills Park Talks lecturers Robin Nagle (DSNY anthropologist-in-residence) and Howard Warren (expert on the Barren Island/Dead Horse Bay), with Max Liboiron, a trash artist and pollution activist.

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Recycling Reconsidered

Our friends at Discard Studies highly recommend this Thursday’s book launch for Samantha MacBride, author of the recently released Recycling Reconsidered: the Present Failure and Future Promise of Environmental Action (MIT 2012). The listing notes that Samantha’s book “offers a critical yet supportive appraisal of the historical development of recycling in the United States, looking at both materials flows and social significance of this meaningful ecological activity”.

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Marty Bellew on Fresh Kills and other NYC landfills

Tuesday night’s talk at the Arsenal by Marty Bellew was a terrific history of landfills in New York City, culminating with the story of Fresh Kills.  The context of other landfills really brought home the outsize scope of operations at Fresh Kills–no other site in the city even came close to the same acreage and garbage volume. 

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Next Freshkills Park Talk: Tomorrow, Nov. 29


The Freshkills Park Talks lecture series continues tomorrow evening, at the Arsenal in Central Park, with Martin Bellew, the man responsible for ensuring environmental compliance during the closure of the Fresh Kills Landfill. Mr. Bellew began working for the New York City Department of Sanitation in 1983 and worked his way up to oversee the closure of several of the city’s incinerators and landfills.

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SI Greenbelt annual meeting and book launch

This Wednesday evening, the Staten Island Greenbelt Nature Center hosts its annual meeting, coupled with a book launch for the recently released High Rock and the Greenbelt: The Making of New York City’s Largest Park.  The book chronicles the history of the Greenbelt’s formation.

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Tour Freshkills Park with an expert this Sunday

Over the course of the various stages of its history, a wide range of professionals have spent time working on or thinking about the Freshkills Park site: sanitation workers, engineers, equipment manufacturers, scientists, policymakers, architects, designers, artists, philanthropists. There are countless layers of expertise to mine in understanding the site. 

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Introducing the Freshkills Park+ smartphone app

We’re excited to introduce a new way of engaging with the Freshkills Park site: Freshkills Park+, an augmented-reality guide to the site’s many facilities, vistas, natural and manmade features.  The experience, which is available to users of iPhone 4, iPad, Android and Blackberry devices, was constructed using the Layar browser, which makes use of a phone’s camera, GPS, compass and accelerometer to enhance what is seen with a layer of digital information. 

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Robert Moses on Flushing Meadows Park

Another gem from the archives: an article in the Saturday Evening Post from 1938 written by Parks Commissioner Robert Moses extolling the then-in-process transformation of the City’s Corona ash dump into the stately Flushing Meadows Park.  We’re reminded of how much the outline of the story prefigures Freshkills Park, where Moses, himself, was the catalyst for landfilling operations, with the endgame of constructing housing, parkland and industrial space.

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Next Freshkills Park Talk: Tuesday, June 14th

photo by Nathan Kensinger

The Freshkills Park Talks lecture series continues next Tuesday with a presentation by elementary school science teacher Howard Warren.  Out of sheer interest and commitment, Howard has become one of the City’s leading experts on the history and present condition of Barren Island and Dead Horse Bay, at the southeastern corner of Brooklyn. 

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Everglades tree islands made from historic garbage

Maybe the earliest landfill-to-park precedent we’ve come across yet: archeological evidence in southwest Florida indicates that many of the “tree islands” of Everglades National Park—marsh islands supporting terrestrial vegetation—have developed from refuse piles from over 5,000 years ago. Credit for the early landfill operations is given to the now-extinct Calusa tribe, who deposited bones, shells, charcoal, and other ancient garbage in middens upon which they could settle, hunt or fish.

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Dutch-themed plaza fronting ferry terminal now open

On our trips through the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in Lower Manhattan over the past two weeks, we’ve been happy to pass through the recently completed Peter Minuit Plaza.  The 1.3-acre plaza fronts the ferry terminal and serves as a nexus of transportation modes and public space at the tip of the island: ferry, subways, buses, bikeways, benches and outdoor tables and chairs are all present here. 

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