Since 1947, it has been one of New York’s most notorious locations: the Freshkills landfill, in Staten Island, the city’s least populated, least renowned borough. To many, it became a sort of running joke about the borough itself. After all, how seriously can you take a place whose best-known landmark is vast mounds of garbage?
Now Freshkills is on its way to becoming Staten Island’s claim to fame rather than notoriety. The landfill stopped accepting trash in March 2001; now, over it, a massive public park is under way. One of the first phases, Schmul Park, reopened in 2012. An adjacent and pre-existing park, it is a small finger sticking out from Freshkills into the Travis section of Staten Island, and it will serve as the entrance to the larger new park. Its redesign, by Freshkills master planner James Corner Field Operations, features playgrounds, ball fields, and basketball and handball courts, with a tree-lined walkway along one side.