As smart cities decrease sprawl, wastelands are increasingly repurposed and revitalized

Some of the best parts of certain metropolitan areas are literally built on dumps. Examples include New York City’s Freshkills Park, César Chávez Park in Berkeley, California, and the Tiffit Nature Reserve in Buffalo, New York.

Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Garden.
Photo by Vmenkov via Wikimedia Commons.

In Seattle, Washington, the Union Oil Company of California left behind a contaminated brownfield on their shoreline when it vacated an oil and gas facility in 1975. But in 2007, the Seattle Art Museum reclaimed the industrial wasteland and opened up the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Now the site tops Frommer’s Guide for things to do in Seattle; revealing how millions of dollars, a few weird sculptures, and an annual evening light show can really spruce up a former wasteland.

One of America’s oldest examples of landfill reuse is in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Mount Trashmore Park, usually referred to simply as Mount Trashmore, is an abandoned landfill that was repurposed as a city park in 1974. The park spans 165 acres with hills over 60 feet high. Facilities include four large and 11 small picnic shelters, playground areas, a basketball court, four volleyball areas, parking, vending machines and restrooms.

Mount Trashmore Park also has multiple walking trails – a Perimeter Trail that measures 1.95 miles, a Lake Trail that measures 1.45 miles, and a Mountain Trail that measures 1.30 miles. The Lake Trail and the Hill Trail may be combined for a trail measuring 2.75 miles. The park also features two lakes where fishing is permitted. Since its opening in the 1970s, it ranks as the most popular park in Virginia Beach, with attendance of over one million visitors a year.

In warmer weather, the area does still occasionally smell of garbage. On April 1, 1992, radio station WNOR warned that a large build-up of methane gas was about to cause a fiery explosion at Mount Trashmore. Residents were warned to evacuate the area, causing the local 911 to be flooded with calls. The DJs responsible for the prank were suspended without pay for two weeks.

Photo of Mount Trashmore in Virginia Beach by Kubigula via Wikipedia.

See full article by Andrew Small in CityLab.

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