In addition to their less than stellar odor, landfills are notorious for taking up huge chunks of real estate all over the world. Even the most fastidious recyclers inevitably contribute indirectly to trash that ends up in a landfill. The good news is that we’re realizing these landfills don’t have to stay as heaps of garbage forever – as a matter of fact, they shouldn’t.
As technology and our knowledge of waste management improves, many landfills have actually been turned into amazing public parks. You might not even know there’s trash hidden beneath the lush green treasure of these six park projects from around the world!
César Chávez Park, C.A.
César Chávez Park in Berkeley, California. (Photo: Kristine Paulus/Flickr)
On the waterfront by San Francisco Bay, César Chávez Park offers stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Angel Island. The hillside park with expansive lawns and recreation fields was built on top of one of the largest landfills in the Bay area. The grassy fields are perfect for kite flying at the Berkeley Kite Festival in July, and a hiking trail circling the park’s perimeter gives park visitors a glimpse of the landscape, including an undeveloped haven for wildlife.
Freshkills Park, N.Y.
Freshkills Park in New York is a work-in-progress. (Photo: Kristine Paulus/Flickr)
Still a work in progress, Freshkills Park is on the path to becoming the largest park in all of New York City’s boroughs. Transformation of one of the world’s largest landfills into a 2,200-acre park began in 2008, and plans for a multitude of recreational, educational, and athletic areas, including a 46-acre solar array with the capacity to power 2,000 Staten Island homes, is predicted to be complete in 2035. Once finished, the park will be three times larger than Central Park and one of the largest urban parks in the world.
Washington Park Arboretum, W.A.
The Japanese Garden at Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle, Washington. (Photo: Daniel X. O’Neil/Flickr)
Overtaken by Washington state in the 1960s, the 62-acre Miller Street Dump was eventually cleaned up and naturalized to become part of the Winkenwerder Memorial area at Washington Park Arboretum. Now home to the Seattle Japanese Garden, it features tea ceremonies and other special events, a lake filled with koi and turtles, and more than 40,000 trees, shrubs, and vines from around the world.
Mount Trashmore Park, V.A.
Mount Trashmore in Virginia Beach, Virginia. (Photo: Rain0975/Flickr)
One of Virginia’s most popular parks, which attracts over one million visitors each year, is situated atop mounds of compacted trash covered in clean soil. Constructed in 1974, Mount Trashmore Park delights Virginia Beach visitors and residents with a children’s playground and world-famous, 24,000-square foot skate park. The design of close to 165 acres is almost completely self-sustaining, and the low-water garden gives the park another ingenious, eco-friendly feature.
Sai Tso Wan Recreation Ground, Hong Kong
The “green” sculpture at Sai Tso Wan Recreation Ground in Hong Kong. (Photo: lrt505/Wikimedia Commons)
One of the greenest spaces in the region, the Sai Tso Wan Recreation Ground hosts solar panels, wind turbines, a rainwater collection system, and porous recycled rubber mat lining the playgrounds surface. The Hong Kong Baseball Association has even turned the multi-purpose recreation area into their official training grounds. Between 1978 and 1981, the landfill once held approximately 1.6 million tons of waste before undergoing a series of restoration works from 1995 to 2004 to turn it into today’s poster child for the green movement in Hong Kong. The site even boasts a “green” statue consisting of recycled construction and glass waste to symbolize the importance of sustainable waste management.
Ariel Sharon Park, Israel
Ariel Sharon Park in Tel Aviv, Israel, as seen from above. (Photo: State of Israel/Flickr)
Before the massive landfill outside of Tel Aviv closed in 1999, Hiriya Mountain contained more than 25 million tons of waste. Thanks to an international competition to prevent landfill collapse into the Ayalon River, the site is being resurrected into Ariel Sharon Park, a mound which is visible to anyone flying into Ben Gurion Airport. To protect the park’s plants from underlying contaminants, the entire landscape is being covered by a bioplastic layer to block methane. Once the 2,000-acre urban park is completed in 2020, it will become part of a vast natural area known as Ayalon Park, and feature an amphitheater, athletic fields, bike and walking paths, as well as ponds and wetlands.
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