Staten Island has never been a popular borough, but it’s a place of beau
July 12, 2018 7:35 AM   Subscribe

Originally Staaten Eylandt, no longer a city dump Changing the dump into a park is no easy task
posted by Yellow (13 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
NB: the article does a really deep dive into the history of ecology - like, going all the way back to Herodotus. Which is interesting in its own right, just maybe not what you were expecting in an article about "the launching of a park in Staten Island". But stick with it.

And yeah, anything that can lead to more nature in New York City, I'm down. This actually would add to some natural features that are already there - there is already a whole series of hiking trails right bang in the middle of the island, which feel surprisingly rural. I did a hike once on one trail that went seven miles end-to-end; there were two or three spots where I had to emerge from the woods, cross a street, and maybe walk about ten yards down a sidewalk to find the spot where the trail re-entered woods again, and there were some short stretches where I was walking through wooded areas skirting the backs of peoples' back yards, but mostly it felt like a walk in the woods. I actually saw more deer than people.

And I am now entertaining a fantasy where the development that's picking up on Staten Island's north shore just stays there, the existing housing developments also stay the size they are, and the rest of the island is given over to grassland/park/hiking trails. I would be so down with that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:08 AM on July 12, 2018 [5 favorites]

Wow, I remember being stuck in a traffic jam there, when it was a dump. Not something you ever wanted to do twice. Now it seems like a lovely place to get stuck.
posted by evilDoug at 8:21 AM on July 12, 2018

I was trying to find a before pic of the place. It was hard to find any that did it justice. It was unbelievably huge, and the scent was not something you wanted to be anywhere near. Here's a link to a google images page but really, nothing has the impact of what I saw "back in the day".
posted by evilDoug at 8:30 AM on July 12, 2018

oh man, I was born on SI and lived my first six years there. we moved (to NJ wooo!) before the time when things started to get crazy built up (early 70s) I mean before it became a dump. glad to hear they're trying to re-nature it a bit.
posted by supermedusa at 8:37 AM on July 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Well it looks beautiful
posted by grobstein at 8:49 AM on July 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I moved to SI after the dump was closed, and it amazes me that there was a dump in the first place whenever I pass by it - you can't see it, and you can't always smell it, either.

I've tried the hiking paths before and god I wish the trails were blazed better. I mean, getting lost is not particularly a disaster in SI, but aimlessly wandering around greenery within a golf course was a little bit weird. I guess I'm almost not used to seeing trail blazes on sidewalks and streets rather than trees, either. Half the time I was wondering if there were no blazes because it'd make some golf course manager angry.
posted by crankytalking at 9:41 AM on July 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Cranky - which trail were you on? I was on the white trail, and I also had a little trouble at the very beginning and at a couple spots towards the end. for the most part it was pretty okay, though.

Asking since some friends have finally agreed to come hiking with me "after listening to you talk about it so much", and I was considering also trying out the blue trail as well for a second go-round; but the map shows that the blue trail goes through some properly residential areas, and I'm now hoping that it wouldn't lead to a bunch of us wandering around people's driveways looking for blue paint splotches.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:40 AM on July 12, 2018

They just opened a Shake Shack outside the Staten Island Mall which overlooks the old landfill. I imagine that's a pretty good indicator that the smell is no longer there if people are willing to eat right outside the perimeter of the old dump.
posted by cazoo at 10:59 AM on July 12, 2018

EmpressCallipygos - I started on the yellow trail, since it was incredibly easy to get to since it starts at the mall, cut briefly through the white trail (which wasn't too bad but admittedly I wasn't on it for very long) to get to Moses' Mountain, and then went back to the yellow trail and got promptly lost at the Richmond Country Club and couldn't tell for almost the entirety of the country club part if I was on the yellow path, the blue path, an alternate route, or neither. Because there is more than one alternate path within the country club area and none of them were blazed that well, and since I did not enjoy the idea of getting (possibly) beaned in the head by a golf ball, I sort of gave up around the end of the country club trail and grabbed a bus back home. It gets really residential around this area and the paths do cut right into the country club and what feels like a lot of private property - I felt a little bit nervous about poking through people's private property and just abandoned it for another day. Otherwise, the yellow trail is (mostly) fine up to the country club, I think.
posted by crankytalking at 5:51 AM on July 13, 2018

EmpressCallipygos, we have a common friend that knows the trails there very well! You should ask him about them when you want to go next. It’s been a while since I’ve been on that trail, it’s almost like no trail. I got lost too!

CrankyTalking, try it again! It’s nice out there! I hear the camping is great, I’ve never done it and I don’t know if it’s opened to the public, but I was told there’s a spot that’s the highest elevation on this side of the country in Staten Island. I may have remembered incorrectly (I am old now too!)

In my younger years, I would never have thought I’d say this, but it’s a really nice borough if you like being in New York City and enjoy nature. I’ll always be a Brooklyn girl, though.
posted by Yellow at 4:31 AM on July 17, 2018

Yellow - I think that's Moses' mountain, isn't it? The highest elevation point. I did visit it, but at the very top you don't get much of a view, so I came away a leeeetle bit disappointed. To be fair, I learned to hike using the Breakneck Ridge in upstate New York and the views on that are pretty spectacular and hard to live up to.

I've been meaning to try camping! Although I thought the camp sites were near the fort, rather than in the middle of the island. But there's a lot I don't really know about SI, and I've been here for almost .... eight years now. I moved from Queens and while I know Queens really well since that's where I grew up (aside from a stint in childhood in Flatbush), I still really don't know SI all that well. The public transportation within the borough leave a little bit to be desired since they're not as densely networked as Queens and make it difficult to explore without a car.
posted by crankytalking at 4:17 AM on July 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

The national-parkground camping on Staten Island is indeed by Fort Wadsworth, which is technically part of the Gateway National Recreation Area (which also includes Sandy Hook, NJ, and Floyd Bennett Field and Jacob Riis Park in Brooklyn). But there's also a kids' summer camp in the middle of the island, and may be private campsites scattered here and there (there are some Airbnb type of sites popping up now where people with parcels of land offer them up to campers).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:37 AM on July 20, 2018

CrankyTalking, I want to see Breakneck Ridge! I’ll have to figure out how to get there one of these days. I’ll have to agree that the views are not spectacular, but it’s something that’s local and it’s not available in most boroughs. I think it’s just something to go get lost in for a moment and be away from the hustle and bustle but still be close to home.

EmpressCallipygos, it’s all part of the Greenbelt! Or so I remembered. Maybe I should go look!
posted by Yellow at 2:09 PM on July 20, 2018

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