Overhead view of Freshkills
Rendering of Freshkills Park. Photo via Freshkills Park and the City of New York

Although the opening of Freshkills Park seems like a very long ways from now, we were given a taste of what’s to come last year, when the first park section broke ground in Staten Island. When completed, the former landfill turned 2,200-acre green space will be the second largest park in New York City, the largest park constructed since the 19th century, and three times bigger than Central Park.

In the meantime, take a look at our list of fun facts about Freshkills Park:

1. Freshkills Park Could’ve Been the Highest Point on the East Coast

When Fresh Kills opened as a landfill in 1948, the initial plan was to use the space temporarily for 20 years. By 1955, however, it became the principal landfill for household garbage collected from New York City. At the peak of its operation, as many as 20 barges — each carrying 650 tons of garbage — were emptying its contents onto the site each day. The landfill soon became the world’s largest man-made structure (rising 82 feet higher than the Statue of Liberty), according to authors John Lloyd and John Mitchinson in Qi: the Book of General Ignorance.

Had it been kept open, the landfill would have eventually reached an elevation of 500 feet to become the highest point on the East Coast, Britannica reports. Due to public pressure, however, the site was closed on March 22, 2001. It would temporarily reopen after September 11th to accommodate the rubble from the attacks before the site was reclaimed for the construction of the new park in 2008.