Thursday, 11 August 2011

Fresh Kills Ship Graveyard

“Give Staten Island a Chance” reads the slogan printed at the ferry terminal. Pretty hard when the information centre consists of a stack of leaflets for Richard’s new Sporting goods shop and arrows pointing toward the Manhattan Bound Ferry dock. Apart from taking advantage of the free ferry to the Island which gives great views of downtown Manhattan and Statue of Liberty, I went to New York’s forgotten borough in search of the Fresh Kills Ship Graveyard, billed as a post-industrial runescape of rusted ships tossed across the Arthur Kill marshlands. You’re not going to find this in your rubbish lonely planet guide. How come? Probably because it didn’t come up as one of the larger Ws on the Wikipedia plug in for Google Earth, which was clearly their sole research source.

After finding the only bus map on Staten Island, conveniently located in an underpass, I took the train to Hugueton and trekked about 3 miles across the Island to the graveyard. On the way I passed the site of the largest ever man made thing, the Fresh kills Landfill. Now covered in soil, it’s being converted into a retail and office park. Without properly recording the location and with no 3G, I quickly became lost.

Using only my memory of Google maps and with the sidewalks rapidly diminishing I was about to give up until, after running down a stretch of freeway and into a little graveyard I finally glimpsed through the bushes and saw a marooned ship. I had to scramble through some weeds before getting out onto the marshlands and seeing better the landscape of ships, which was pretty impressive. I don’t think the photos do it justice and you probably need a kayak to see and photograph it properly, but it was well worth the walk. Unfortunately, much more of the shipyard is walled off and apparently there are several old US Navy ships being scrapped. Whilst for most people it wouldn’t be worth going to see, trekking over to the shipyard allowed me to see part of New York I wouldn’t have otherwise.

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