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How the World’s Largest Garbage Dump Evolved Into a Green Oasis

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A little less than two decades ago, the last steaming load of garbage arrived at Fresh Kills Landfill. A packed-high barge turned slowly out of the Arthur Kill — that long, dishwater-brown tidal strait that separates Staten Island from New Jersey — and then docked at the Sanitation Department’s pier, an event celebrated less as a matter of ecological stewardship at the time than a triumph of not-in-my-backyard politics.

I remember the last barge because I happened to be there. It was March 22, 2001, and I was embedded with the Department of Sanitation’s film crew, greeting the barge from the rain-soaked deck of what is known to the Sanitation Department navy as a trash skimmer, a little boat that snags flotsam, like a mechanized sea gull. The barge had set off that morning from a transfer station in College Point, Queens, heading south into the East River. Fireboats saluted the trash with water cannons, and as it passed Gracie Mansion, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani saluted it from his front lawn.

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All photographs accompanying this article are from an ongoing series documenting the rebirth of Freshkills. <em>New York City Skyline with One World Trade from North Mound, Looking Northeast toward Main Creek and the Greenbelt, Autumn</em>, 2018

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https://www.nytimes.com

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