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Rubbish Mountain

Rubbish Mountain

2nd August 2011
Great Wall of China

People have been making their mark on our planet for thousands of years primarily in the form of the development and expansion of their settlements. However, the world's largest man-made structure began appearing brick by brick well before the era of our modern steel skyscrapers.

Starting in the 5th century BC, the Chinese began building small sections of wall to protect them from being invaded by tribes and nomadic groups. The Great Wall of China (as it became known), was continually built and maintained right up to the 16th century, becoming man's largest structure that can even be seen from space today.

Landfill site

Although The Great Wall of China still retains this title in the 21st century, there was a time when it actually fell back into second place as it was overtaken by what was the largest rubbish tip in the world. When it opened in 1947, the Fresh Kills landfill site on the western side of Staten Island was supposed to be a temporary facility but didn't close for more than 50 years.

Built upon a natural salt marsh, around 590 tonnes of refuse was dumped at the site on a daily basis at it's peak and it wasn't until 2001 when the highest point of the site was 25 meters taller than the Statue of Liberty, that EPA stepped in and helped to close the site in March of that year.

Plans for Park

The Fresh Kills landfill site still contains a variety of wildlife thanks to the natural wetlands and marshes surrounding it. In 2003 the transformation of the world's largest rubbish tip into a city park began, and although parts of it are now almost unrecognisable, work on the site will continue over the coming years.