We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Fresh Kills?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
America Explained is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At America Explained, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Fresh Kills is a section of Staten Island in New York which was used as a landfill between 1948 and 2001. The site has become famous, primarily due to its sheer size; Fresh Kills is around three times the size of Central Park, and it can be readily identified in satellite images of Staten Island. Fresh Kills is also the site of an ambitious environmental remediation project, which aims to turn the location from a garbage heap into a sprawling public park with numerous environmentally friendly features.

All told, Fresh Kills covers around 220 acres (890 hectares) on the western side of Staten Island. It is located on the Fresh Kills estuary, which explains the name; “kill” is a Dutch word meaning “stream” or “river.” The site was opened in 1948 as a landfill, and originally intended to be temporary. By 2001, 20 barges were traveling to Fresh Kills daily with New Yorkers' garbage, and the site was becoming an environmental issue.

Towering piles of garbage at Fresh Kills sometimes loomed higher than some New York landmarks, and the site was so massive that people were comparing it to major archaeological landmarks, like the Great Wall of China. In March of 2001, Fresh Kills was closed, and the city began seeking out an alternative location for its garbage, opening the Staten Island Transfer Station on the site to process garbage for shipping off site.

In September 2001, the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in Manhattan presented a major problem to the city of New York: a huge pile of debris which had to be gotten rid of quickly, yet respectfully. The city realized that the cost of shipping debris from the site to a distant location would be formidable, so it reopened Fresh Kills specifically for the purpose of interning the World Trade Center debris. The site also hosted a mobile morgue, where anthropologists sifted through the tons of debris to search for human remains, with the goal of identifying as many victims as possible.

In 2003, the City of New York embarked on a plan to transform Fresh Kills, turning it into a public park with bridle paths, recreation areas, wind farms, and numerous native plant and animal species. As of 2008, the project was ongoing, and the site is closed to the public, although people can arrange special tours of Fresh Kills to learn more about the proposed park. If successful, the plan will certainly transform the face of Staten Island, and undoubtedly puzzle future archaeologists.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a America Explained researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By honeybees — On Dec 17, 2011

Living in New York City, I am well aware of the amount of trash that a city this size generates.

I also hear updates about Fresh Kills park on the news quite frequently. When you look at images of the Fresh Kills landfill from space compared to the proposed future images, you get a better idea of what they are hoping to accomplish.

This project is something that is going to be in the making for about 30 years, so it is a massive undertaking.

I hope I am around long enough to see it completed. From the plans I have heard, it sounds like it will be a beautiful, expansive place.

When I try to imagine something like this being 3 times bigger than Central Park, it is hard to wrap my mind around.

By Mykol — On Dec 17, 2011

I was in New York before 2001 and remember seeing the massive piles of garbage and debris before the Fresh Kills landfill was closed.

This really had a big impact on me as I realized how careless we are with our trash and what we throw away and don't even think about.

It is also overwhelming to think about the amount of trash that a place like New York City generates in just one day. There has to be some way to effectively deal with this that isn't so costly and harmful to the environment.

I think the recent emphasis on recycling is a good start. Our kids are much more mindful of this than I was at their age.

Ever since I saw those huge mounds of trash, I am much more aware of what I put in the trash and what I recycle.

By tigers88 — On Dec 16, 2011

I wonder if there is any documentation of what the Fresh Kills landfill looked like before and after the debris from the 9/11 attacks was cleaned up? It seems like that would be a massive amount of new garbage dumped onto a site that was already filled to the limits.

I hope that in the future we can find more sustainable ways to deal with garbage and debris. If we can find ways to process or recycle materials on site instead of trucking them back and forth between facilities it would cut down significantly on the time and cost it takes to deal with waste

By chivebasil — On Dec 16, 2011

It will be interesting to see what effects landfills have on the environment going into the future. We heard for a long time that the massive amounts of trash we produce would lead to catastrophe eventually but now the big environmental apocalypse scare seem to be global warming.

Fresh Kills is an interesting example though. That is one of those landfills that is infamous for being massive, disgusting and ecologically perilous. The proposed park makes it seem like there is nothing but healthy soil underneath but here is in fact a literal mountain of garbage, of all kinds, that will have some kind of odd effect on the land eventually. Maybe it will take 20 years to find out, maybe it will take 200.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
America Explained, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

America Explained, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.