Freshkills Park Blog

Gotham and its Garbage, tomorrow

NYU’s Robin Nagle, Anthropologist-in-Residence of the NYC Department of Sanitation, will be giving a talk tomorrow evening called Gotham and its Garbage: What it Was, What it Is and What It Might Become, at the Bloomingdale Library on the Upper West Side and sponsored by the Park West Neighborhood History Group.  Robin is a terrific speaker and knows an enormous amount about New York City’s waste management system.  Should be a great talk.

Tuesday, November 17, 6:00pm
Bloomingdale Library
150 West 100th St, bet Columbus & Amsterdam, 2nd floor


November 16, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , , , | Leave a comment

This Sunday is America Recycles Day

In honor of America Recycles Day this Sunday, Brokelyn offers a Brooklynite’s guide to responsibly ridding yourself of stuff–through swaps, donations and recycling.  Lots of New York City-wide non-landfill options in the other boroughs here, too; this is a rich, comprehensive resource.  Some highlights and additions:

  • The NYC Stuff Exchange, run by the NYC Department of Sanitation, offers a borough-by-borough directory of places where you can buy and sell used or second-hand items, large and small; they also have a list of other sites you can use to sell or exchange specific types of items.
  • Materials for the Arts collects surplus or used material from a variety of commercial and non-profit organizations for free distribution to non-profit arts groups and schools.
  • The Department of Sanitation offers a list of electronic recyclers and dismantlers that do business in New York State.  The Lower East Side Ecology Center also e-cycling drop-off days with some frequency.
  • You can  drop off up to four car tires at any nearby NYC Department of Sanitation garage between 8 am and 4 pm, Monday through Saturday.
  • Clothes and textiles can be donated, to Goodwill or Salvation Army, for example, but they can also be recycled.  The Council on the Environment of New York City, for one, hosts clothing and textile recycling events, including this Saturday, the 14th, from 8am-4pm at the Staten Island Mall.

November 13, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , , , | Leave a comment

One endpoint of the NYC waste stream

Tullytown Landfill

A landfill in Tullytown, PA ranks third by volume among destinations for NYC's residential waste.

Since the closure of Fresh Kills Landfill in 2001, districts outside of New York City, and as far as Virginia and Ohio, have become destinations for the city’s garbage.  Just north of Philadelphia, a 6,000-acre complex of Bucks County landfills–in Tullytown, Falls Township and Morrisville, PA–receive about 2,500 tons of New York City’s trash each day.  Along with the waste, these three municipalities have also received millions of dollars from Waste Management, the company that runs the landfill complex and imports waste from New York through a contract with the Department of Sanitation.  Tullytown property owners receive an annual check of $5,000 from Waste Management, and the municipality has a $50 billion surplus.  Waste Management offers free trash pick-up for Falls Township residents and has donated 4-wheel-drive vehicles to the Police Department of Morrisville.

At 283,902 tons of garbage received annually, GROWS North Landfill in Tullytown ranks third by volume as a destination for New York City’s garbage.  Number one is a landfill in Waverly, VA, which received 932,536 tons of trash in fiscal year 2009, almost a third of the 3.3 million tons of residential waste produced by New York City each year.

(via The New York Times)

November 9, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , , | 1 Comment

Freshkills Park on has posted a short video piece on the history and transformation of the Freshkills Park site, featuring Park Administrator Eloise Hirsh and Department of Sanitation Anthropologist-in-Residence, Robin Nagle.


September 14, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , | Leave a comment

Ghost of sanitation infrastructure past


A quiet and handsome set of photographs by Nathan Kensinger showcases the decommissioned Hamilton Avenue Marine Transfer Station along Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal.  The station was closed along with the Fresh Kills Landfill in 2001 and is currently unoccupied.  Its rehabilitation has recently been put out to bid to private waste management companies for use in barge export of waste, in accordance with the city’s 2006 Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan.  All of New York City’s trash is now privately carted out of state–much of it via trucking.  Barge export (and rail, which already happens in Staten Island and in North Brooklyn) would reduce the city’s sanitation costs significantly.

(via everydaytrash)

August 5, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , , , | Leave a comment

Robin Nagle on Loving Fresh Kills


Last Saturday’s downpour didn’t faze the hardy group of about 30 that came out to hear Robin Nagle’s talk on top of North Mound at the Freshkills Park site.  Our coming together “not in protest but in appreciation” for what was buried beneath our feet, in spite of the rain, was strong foundation for Robin’s claim that we can love a landfill.  Thanks to all who came out, and, of course, to Robin.

If you weren’t able to make it, or if you were and are hungry for more of Robin’s insights into the world of sanitation work, Slate published this week of her journal entries in 2004, which is a great read.

June 25, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , | 3 Comments

Recent press on upcoming Freshkills Park speakers

MLUOne of the panelists at next Tuesday evening’s panel discussion on public art, The Challenges and Channels of Public Art Production, is Mierle Ukeles, who is the Department of Sanitation’s Artist-in-Residence and contributed to the Freshkills Park master planning process as a Percent for Art artist.  As the first and premier maintenance artist working today, there’s been a lot written about Mierle’s public artwork over the years, including this most recent article in Public Art Review.  She’s also written a chapter called “Forgiveness for the Land–Public Offerings: Made by All Redeemed by All” in the recently published book Considering Forgiveness.

handelThe Christian Science Monitor also just featured Dr. Steven Handel, a pioneer in the field of urban ecology who has been involved in a number of investigations and design projects for land reclamation sites–including numerous studies on the Freshkills Park site.  Dr. Handel is the director of the Center for Urban Restoration Ecology (CURE), a joint venture between Rutgers and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  He will be this month’s speaker in our Freshkills Park Talks lecture series next Thursday evening at the Staten Island Museum, where he’ll discussing urban ecology, directions for the future and the lessons we can take from Freshkills Park.

June 19, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Upcoming Freshkills Park events

The upcoming week is a busy one for us.  Three terrific public events focused on different aspects of the Freshkills Park site: waste, art and ecology.  They’re all free, and we hope to see you at one or more of them.  An RSVP is needed for the first, but not the others.

Saturday, June 20th, 12-2:30pm @ the Freshkills Park site
Sacred Geography: How to Love a Landfill
Robin Nagle, Anthropologist-in-Residence with the New York City Department of Sanitation, suggests that Fresh Kills, both as a landfill of yesteryear and as a park of tomorrow, merits our affection despite its troubled heritage. She goes so far as to claim that Fresh Kills is sacred space, a status she believes it held even before it became the location for material from the World Trade Center. Join us as she explores these provocative ideas on the North Mound of Freshkills Park.  Space is limited.  Please RSVP to Martha at to participate.

The Challenges and Channels of Public Art Production: A Panel Discussion
Tuesday, June 23, 2009, 7-9pm @ Cargo Café
120 Bay Street, Staten Island, a short w
alk from the St. George Ferry Terminal
The Council on the Arts & Humanities for Staten Island (COAHSI) and Freshkills Park present a panel discussion and dialogue about how commissioning entities, time scales, transient or permanent siting, and approvals processes moderate what public work can and should be.  Panelists are: Ingrid Chu, Director of RED-I Projects and Forever & Today, Inc.; Christina Ray, Director and Founder of Glowlab and Conflux; and New York City-based artists Michael Falco, Kathryne Hall and Mierle Laderman Ukeles, the Department of Sanitation’s Artist-in-Residence who contributed to the master plan for Freshkills Park.  Moderator: Sara Reisman, Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art Program.

Freshkills Park Talks: Urban Ecology at Fresh Kills
Thursday, June 25, 2009, 7:30-9pm @ The Staten Island Museum
75 Stuyvesant Place, a short walk from the St. George Ferry Terminal
Dr. Steven Handel, professor of ecology at Rutgers University and the Director of the Center for Urban Restoration Ecology (CURE), has been conducting research at Fresh Kills for nearly two decades. Dr. Handel will discuss his findings, what they mean for the restoration of compromised landscapes and the lessons we can learn from Fresh Kills in developing strategies for managing the ecology of our cities.

June 16, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Environmental comic strips


Andy Lubershane’s weekly series Earthly Comics works to unpack environmental topics that can be difficult to understand: walkability; pervious concrete; cellulosic ethanol.  Not the stuff of Marmaduke, but it does break some complicated ideas down into digestible chunks, and it’s pretty lighthearted.

For younger earth-conscious readers, the Department of Sanitation’s outreach and education arm, NYCWasteLe$$, has put together a comic book series called TrashMasters! Aimed to kids grades pre-k-1, 2-3, and 4-6, the series follows the adventures of kids who believe in cleaning up their schools and neighborhoods.  TrashMasters also comes in an interactive online format.

June 15, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , , , , | 2 Comments

How to Love a Landfill: June 20th at Freshkills Park

We get a lot of raised eyebrows when we first talk about the Freshkills Park Project with the uninitiated.  Some folks are put off by the idea of landfills in general, and some are familiar with the stigma the site has given Staten Island over the past half century.


For skeptics and true believers alike, we’ve got a terrific event coming up Saturday, June 20th.  Robin Nagle, the Department of Sanitation’s Anthropologist-in-Residence, will be giving a a talk and leading a conversation on top of the North Mound about why the Freshkills Park site deserves our love–and why she calls it ‘sacred space.’  She’s written an essay that digs into some of the themes she’ll be touching on as we sit out on top of the mound on chairs, blankets and yoga mats.  You’re welcome to sign up for the event whether it sounds agreeable, provocative or flighty to you–at the least, you’ll get a free tour of the site out of it, and at the most, contribute to a healthy discussion.  This is only our second event like this, but last month’s reading on top of North Mound was fantastic.

Robin is no lightweight: she teaches anthropology and urban studies at NYU and has been Sanitation’s official anthropologist-in-residence since 2006.  Over the past several years, she’s been working to establish a New York City Sanitation Museum.  She’s thought A LOT about garbage, the Department of Sanitation and Fresh Kills Landfill and has been featured in the New York Times and an episode of This American Life on garbage.  We’re pretty excited about her talk.

Saturday, June 20th, 12pm-3pm
A Parks bus will pick up attendees at the St. George Ferry Terminal at 12pm, take them to the event, and deliver them back to the terminal at 2:30 or 3 pm.  This event, like all of our events, is free, but space is limited.  Contact Martha at to reserve a spot.

June 5, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , , , , | Leave a comment