Post Industrial Salt Marsh (Richard W. DeKorte Park)


Went on an ex-urban hike through the ecological ruins alongside the northern parts of the New Jersey Turnpike. What remains a sublimely wasted industrial, post-industrial landscape is now complemented by a group of parks and trails forming a wet-green lung. Plans for the Meadowlands are to create a vast park system, about which you can read here. The work goes back to the creation of the former New Jersey Meadowlands Commission,  about which you can read here.  The website explains that the commission “was set up by an Act of the State Legislature in 1968 (N.J.S.A. 13:17-1 et seq) and tasked with a three-fold mandate: to provide for orderly development of the region, to provide facilities for the sanitary disposal of solid waste, and to protect the delicate balance of nature.” A part of that ecological infrastructure is Richard W. DeKorte Park. Trails thread through wetlands, over old dikes and service roads that have since been re-purposed for the park. No dead-zone, the area is full of aquatic and avian life nestled comfortably alongside the New Jersey Turnpike with views of the Pulaski Skyway and New York City out in the distance.

There’s nothing inevitable about ecological apocalypse, but it takes work, money, and organization to get fix the world. A regressive thinker, Heidegger would not have understood a place like this composed of variable velocities, some fast and some slow, where the views alternate seamlessly between the natural and the industrial. This is a Deleuzian landscape, or something out of Bruno Latour. Trucks, cars, trees, bridges, electric pylons, birds, crabs, a church in the distance, grasses, roads, reeds, concrete, watery confluence, the big city, and so much more all hold together. Parts of the park were built on a re-purposed landfill. A place like this is the hard work of restoration.

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About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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