The city park built to hide a sewage plant

Okay, so massive smokestacks loom on top of a platform surrounded by lush trees and flowers.

But other than that, you might never know that Riverbank State Park, along the Hudson River in Harlem, masks an industrial secret.

The park’s expansive lawn, pools, and ball fields were built in the late 1980s on top of the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant, which handles 125 million gallons of sewage daily.

With so much waste flowing around the park, does it reek? Some residents complained of a rotten-egg odor when it opened in 1993, but the stench seems to have gone away.

Of course, there are other environmental risks—like fire. In 2011, a four-alarm blaze that started in the treatment plant sent 30-foot plumes of smoke into the air and forced park-goers to evacuate.

Aside from that, it’s a lovely, clean park with a fantastic view of the Hudson—one that’s worth the trip to 145th Street to see.

[Bottom photo: the park from New Jersey, via Wikipedia]

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7 Responses to “The city park built to hide a sewage plant”

  1. Patone Says:

    Pass this on the way to work everyday I can tell you with the utmost certainty that the stench has certainly not subsided. Had a cousin that interviewed for a job once and he could not catch his breath.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    I went there for the first time a few weeks ago and didn’t smell a thing. But it was a breezy day….

  3. Benjamin Waldman Says:

    Just to let you know it was the state that constructed the park, nece riverbank state park

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    Yes, thank you for clarifying. By “city park” I simply meant it was within city limits.

  5. Jules Says:

    I used to live near it and visited frequently. I never smelled anything. It’s a pretty popular park, but of course there aren’t many parks in West Harlem. One fun feature — you can go right down to the Hudson.

  6. Beth Says:

    It depends on the day. Sometimes there is a very distinct odor from the place.

  7. Tom Says:

    Maybe because it’s below the level of the park itself, the west side highway always has a certain aroma as you drive past the site and it ain’t roses.

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