These landfill reclamation projects have transformed heaps of garbage into thriving community spaces.
Before they were thriving centers for community and recreation, they were mountains of smelling waste… But you’d never know it until now.
1. Mount Trashmore, Virginia Beach
Built with compacted waste and clean soil, Mount Trashmore spans 165 acres, including two man-made mountains, two lakes, and two playgrounds. It’s world famous skatepark is frequented by Tony Hawk, a professional skateboarder. Mount Trashmore also features an extremely water efficient xeriscaped garden.
2. Hiriya Park, Tel-Aviv, Israel
Formerly referred to as “Sh*t Mountain” by locals, Hiriya Park used to be home to 25 million tons of garbage. The trash pile could be smelled for miles until the government forced its closure in 1999. Architect Peter Latz won a nationwide competition to repurpose the park. He designed a layer of bioplastic over the compacted trash to prohibit methane from escaping and allow grass and flowers to flourish once again on replaced topsoil.
3. Sai Tso Wan Recreation Ground, Hong Kong
Between 1978 and 1981, the Sai Tso Wan landfill accumulated 1.6 million tons of garbage, measuring 65 meters high. The government sealed it with soil and began working on a new project to promote environmental protection. Now, the sub-base of the park is rubbersoil, made from recycled tires. It also has wind turbines, solar panels, rain irrigation system and a landmark monument created with construction waste and broken glass.
4. Pulau Semaku, Singapore
Still serving as Singapore’s one and only functioning landfill, Pulau Semaku was opened in 2005 to include recreation. Through deliberate planning and careful management, the water surrounding the park still maintains thriving coral reefs and carbon-rich mangroves.
5. Cesar Chavez Park, Berkeley
The waterfront park on the San Francisco Bay Coast boasts hiking, wildlife, grassy knolls and views of Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Angel Island. Every year, thousands flock to the park for the Berkley Kite Festival. You would never know that it was once a city trash dump.
6. Port Sunlight River Park, United Kingdom
After 15 years as a landfill, Port Sunlight River Park was built and now covers 70-acres and hosts 12,000 trees, walkways, wildflower meadows, wetlands and rare bird sanctuary. The gases produced from now-underground rotting trash are converted to electricity and supplied to the National Grid.
7. Flushing Meadows, Long Island
Originally a lush marshland, Flushing Meadows has undergone more than one transformation during modern history. For 30 years, the area served as a dumping ground for street sweepings and chimney ash. Scott Fitzgerald referred to it as “a valley of ashes” in The Great Gatsby. It was subsequently closed for violating health code, and developed as a park in the 1930’s. Today, Flushing Meadows hosts the US Open yearly, and has hosted two World Fairs during the 20th century.
8. Freshkills, Staten Island
Once the world’s biggest trash dump and world’s largest “manmade structure” (made from garbage!), Freshkills is now a park almost three times the size of Central Park. The landfill reclamation project began in the early 2000’s, and park construction is projected for completion in 2035. The park will have areas for kayaking, horseback riding, bike and pedestrian paths, sports fields and renewable energy projects, including a large solar park.