Reinventing Staten Island

The ecological philosophy of turning a garbage dump into a park

By Madeline Gressel

When the Dutch arrived in New York Harbor in 1609, Staten Island — or Staaten Eylandt, as they named it — was a wild wonderland, woodland in the middle and tidal salt marsh on the edges, populated by the local Lenape tribe, plus an embarrassment of natural riches: eels, bluefish, bitterns, herons, muskrats, ducks, clams, crabs, wild turkeys, porpoises, and more. Jutting midway into the island from the west coast, like a hook in the…