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Buried Stories is an oral history theatre project that explores the experiences of people living near or working at the Fresh Kills Landfill. Join us as we uncover the untold stories of those whose lives have been impacted by this historic site.


Buried Stories:

An Oral History

Theatre Project

Information and Performances

History of the Fresh Kills Landfill

The Fresh Kills Landfill, located on Staten Island, New York, was once the largest landfill in the world. It opened in 1948 and operated for over five decades, accepting waste from all five boroughs of New York City. The landfill faced controversy due to its environmental impact and odor, but also served as a source of jobs and revenue. After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the site was temporarily used to sort through debris. In 2001, a closure plan was put in place, and the landfill officially closed in 2001. Since then, the site has undergone extensive redevelopment into Freshkills Park, a large-scale public park that aims to restore the area's natural habitat and provide recreational amenities for the community. Learn more about the timeline here.

Tell Your Story

Do you have a story to tell about your experience with the Fresh Kills Landfill? Maybe you grew up near the dump. Maybe you worked there. Maybe you were in local government and worked on policy to get it closed. Or maybe you have one small but interesting experience with the site. We are seeking all stories, big and small. If you would like to know more or be interviewed, scan the QR code which will take you to a google form. Or contact us at


Join us on January 27, 2024 at the St. George Library at 12pm for a staged reading of the first draft of Buried Stories. Entry is free and open to the public. If you have any questions, please email us at


"It was supposed to be an experiment and it just kept going and going and going."
-Project Participant

Photos From Buried Stories Reading 1/27/24 @ The St. George Library


About Buried Stories

What was it like to grow up near the landfill? To work near the landfill? And now that it is turning into Fresh Kills Park and the garbage is buried beneath grass and trees, what stories are being buried as well? Buried Stories is an oral history theatre project that aims to shed light on the experiences of those impacted by the Fresh Kills Landfill. We seek to investigate the stories buried beneath the Fresh Kills Landfill by interviewing people who have been directly impacted and transforming their stories into a script. Buried Stories is a multi-year project. In phase one (2023) Carrie Ellman-Larsen and Jolie Tong will conduct interviews, do research and create a first draft of the script to be presented in a staged reading. Phase two (2024) will consist of conducting more interviews, gathering more research and creating a second draft of the script with a public reading. In the third phase (2025/26) we will create a final draft of the script and present a fully mounted production. 

This project is made possible by a DCLA Art Fund Grant from Staten Island Arts, with public funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Creative Team

Creative Team

Carrie Ellman-Larsen



Read Carrie's bio here.

Jolie Tong

Seated Lobby Landscape.jpeg


Read Jolie's bio here. 

 "I mean, people would make fun of Staten Island because of the dump. I don't call it the landfill because my dad never did. He always called it the dump. It was always the dump."
-Project Participant 

Why the Fresh Kills Landfill?

Co-creator Carrie Ellman-Larsen talks about her connection to the landfill. 

As a Staten Islander who grew up in New Springville near the landfill, I have always been curious about why it was open for so long. Why did people move to the area if they knew the landfill was nearby? Did residents know or understand the consequences of living near a landfill? Who made decisions about the landfill for the community? Why build a park right over the garbage? All of these questions lead to our essential one:  How are stories buried, and if we dig, what can be uncovered?


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