6. The Department of Sanitation Dumped Trash Into What Was Once the World’s Largest Landfill

Department of Sanitation-Fresh Kills Rendering-Staten Island-NYCA rendering of the future of Fresh Kills Park – Image from NYC Parks

For most of the 20th century, Staten Island was the trash capital of New York. The borough was home to Fresh Kills landfill, which was once the largest landfill in the world, spanning 2,200 acres. By 1955, Fresh Kills was the principal landfill for all household garbage in the city. The landfill was opened in 1947 by New York City Sanitation Commissioner, William Carey.

It was intended to be used temporarily for the first 20 years and then be converted into a multi-use area “with residential, recreational and industrial components.” It closed on March 22, 2001, but temporarily reopened following the attacks on September 11th. Presently, Fresh Kills is undergoing transformation to become Freshkills Park, which upon completion in 2030, will be three times the size of Central Park.