A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Fresh Kills’

Staten Island, New York

Posted by graywacke on August 20, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2412; A Landing A Day blog post number 846.

Dan:  After “landing” once in the Gulf of Mexico, twice in Mexico, and once in Canada, I finally hit lower 48 paydirt.  So, today’s lat/long (40o 32.734’N, 74o 110589’W) puts me in far southern New York:

Oh my.  We must take a closer look:

While not obvious to a non-local, I landed on Staten Island, one of the five NY boroughs.  Having a dot on the map labeled “Staten Island” doesn’t make any sense.  Anyway, let’s zoom way in:

Usually, I land in a farm field, a desert, or a mountain wilderness.  Not today.  Today I landed just off Jefferson Blvd.

Google Earth (GE) is calling me.  Here we go:

And (of course) there’s Street View coverage on Jefferson Blvd.  Here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

So, the house on the right is 254 Rensselaer Ave (considered to front on the side road off of Jefferson); the house on the left is 292 Jefferson Blvd.  I doubt they will ever be aware of the great honor bestowed upon them in this blog!  Maybe I should drop a quick note to “Resident” at both addresses, and give them heads up. . .

Drainage (as you might suspect) is a little vague.  But using the GE tool, I figured out that it is highly likely that runoff from my landing goes into sewers that eventually dump into Fresh Kills.

I found a Wiki map that has the appropriate waterways labeled.  Although my landing is off the map to the south, I’m assuming that my drainage ends up on Richmond Creek:

Here’s a map showing the waterways that surround Staten Island:

And another, a little further out, showing Staten Island’s hydrologic relationship with the greater NY City area:

Like I said early, I assume that my drainage ends up in Richmond Creek; on to the Fresh Kills; on to the Arthur Kill, which (based on the tides, I suspect) ends up in either Lower or on to Newark Bay/Kill Van Kull/Upper New York Bay; and on, of course, to the Atlantic Ocean.

I put the Orange Dude on a bridge over the Fresh Kills.  Looking upstream:

Looking downstream:

Wow.  One would never guess that these pictures are taken in New York City!

So what are all of these Kills?  I’ll start with Fresh Kills, from Wiki:

Fresh Kills (from the Middle Dutch word kille, meaning “riverbed” or “water channel”) is a stream and freshwater estuary in the western portion of the New York City borough of Staten Island. It is the site of the Fresh Kills Landfill, formerly New York City’s principal landfill.

And Arthur Kill:

The name Arthur Kill is an Anglicization of the Dutch achter kill meaning back channel, which would refer to its location “behind” Staten Island.  The name has its roots in the early 17th century during the Dutch colonial era when the region was part of New Netherland.

And Kill Van Kull:

Kill Van Kull translates as “channel from the ridge.”  The ridge referred to is the long peninsula of higher ground between Newark Bay and the Hudson River, that ends at Bayonne, just across the Kill Van Kull from Staten Island.

Ironic, isn’t it, that the world’s largest landfill should be called “Fresh?”

From Wiki:

The Fresh Kills Landfill was a landfill covering 2,200 acres (3.4 sq mi) in Staten Island. The name comes from the landfill’s location along the banks of the Fresh Kills estuary.

The landfill was opened in 1948 and by 1955 it became the largest landfill in the world and remained so until its closure in 2001. At the peak of its operation, in 1986, Fresh Kills received 29,000 tons of residential waste per day. From 1991 until its closing it was the only landfill to receive New York City’s residential waste. It consists of four mounds which range in height from 90 to approximately 225 feet and hold approximately 150 million tons of solid waste.

Here’s a GE Street View shot of the largest “cell,” taken from Rt 440:

FYI, I’ve driven this road many times . . .

Back to Wiki:

Originally, the land where the landfill was located was a salt marsh in which there were tidal wetlands, forests, and freshwater wetlands.

Samuel Kearing, who had served as sanitation commissioner under Mayor John V. Lindsay, remembered in 1970 his first visit to the Fresh Kills project:

  It had a certain nightmare quality. … I can still recall looking down on the operation from a control tower and thinking that Fresh Kills, like Jamaica Bay, had for thousands of years been a magnificent, teeming, literally life-enhancing tidal marsh. And in just twenty-five years, it was gone, buried under millions of tons of New York City’s refuse.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Fresh Kills was temporarily re-opened to be used as a sorting ground for roughly one third of the rubble from Ground Zero. More than 1,600 personal effects were retrieved during this time. About 1.6 million tons of material obtained from Ground Zero was taken to the landfill for sorting.

Thousands of detectives and forensic evidence specialists worked for over 1.7 million hours at Fresh Kills Landfill to try to recover remnants of the people killed in the attacks. A final count of 4,257 human remains were recovered, but only 300 people were identified from these remains.

A memorial is being built to honor those who were not able to be identified from the debris.  The remaining debris was buried in a 40-acre portion of the landfill.  It is highly likely that this debris still contains fragmentary human remains.

The Fresh Kills site is to be transformed into reclaimed wetlands, recreational facilities and landscaped public parkland, the largest expansion of the New York City parks since the development of the chain of parks in the Bronx during the 1890s.

Freshkills Park will be three times the size of Central Park. It will consist of a variety of public spaces and facilities for a multitude of activity types. The site is large enough to support many sports and programs including nature trails, horseback riding, mountain biking, community events, outdoor dining, sports fields and canoeing/kayaking.

Although the park is not scheduled for completion until 2037, the Parks Department reported that in 2010-11 two hundred different species of wildlife had been seen in the former landfill. These included red-winged blackbirds, American goldfinches, red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, osprey, ring-necked pheasants, tree swallows, turkey vultures, and northern snapping turtles.

OK, OK.  This all sounds wonderful.  But I wonder how many species were present before the work on the park began?  I’m no expert, but it seems to me that blackbirds, finches, red-tailed hawks, swallows, osprey, turkey vultures and snapping turtles are all pretty much run-of-the-mill species, likely present near the old landfill. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I think it’s wonderful that a huge park is being created where the landfill is.  And I have no doubt that wildlife will be much more robust.  But let’s not throw out some loose language to make us all excited . . .

Just to show you how beautiful the area can be, I’ll close with this GE photo by Roland Pott of what is now known as Fresh Kills Park:

That’ll do it . . .




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