Being the first to check out a new place is great. But being there before it even opens is better.
New York City is ever-so-slowly getting a brand new public park as a former landfill on Staten Island is transformed into Freshkills Park. At 2,200 acres, the site is three times the size of Central Park and was the world’s largest landfill before it was closed in 2001.
We know what you’re thinking and no, it doesn’t smell like garbage. The Department of Sanitation has created a nine-layer barrier system between the trash and topsoil, as well as smokestacks to manage the gas and plumbing to drain the site.
The site is still very much a work in progress — its projected opening is not until 2036 — but it’s being rehabbed and opened in phases. A few times a year though, parts of the park that aren’t ready for prime time yet are opened to give New Yorkers a behind-the-scenes look during free Discovery Days.
The next one is taking place on June 3 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., when you’ll have run of about 700 acres of hills, ponds and eight miles of trails with fun activities, tours and art projects. Bikes will be free to rent on site or bring your own to ride along freshly paved roads through meadows and wetlands.
Go birdwatching with the NYC Audubon Society (it’s migrating season!), learn about the site’s redevelopment on a free guided tour by the Sanitation Department, fly a kite on one of the park’s tallest hills, enjoy a performance by the Staten Island Philharmonic Orchestra and make art including painting a mural at various stations around the park.
Freshkills Park is located at 350 Wild Ave. in Staten Island, with free shuttle buses running from the ferry terminal every half hour starting at 10:30 a.m.