Bigger than the Burj Khalifa...
If someone was to ask you what the largest man-made structure in the world was, your mind would generally leap to the tallest (The Burj Kalifa) or the longest (The Great Wall of China) or something equally large and famous (The Great Pyramid). However the largest man-made structure in the world is none of these things. It is something far more mundane, yet still impressively large.
It's a hole. A massive hole. More specifically, it's a landfill - The Fresh Kills Landfill site in New York.
As Europe's biggest man-made hole, Aberdeen's 466ft-deep Rubislaw Quarry, is sold off, we at EU Infrastructure thought this would be a good time to look at the massive strucutres that are often ignored by those looking for the 'biggest' man made objects.
The biggest, Fresh Kills Landfill, was opened as a "temporary landfill" in 1947, The Fresh Kills Landfill covers 2200 acres (12 sq km, 4.6 square miles). While its area is not as 'long' as the Great Wall, the site's volume surpasses that of the China's ancient wonder.
When it was opened in 948, Fresh Kills Landfill became one of the largest refuse heaps in human history. At its 'peak', the site was visible from space and taller than the Statue of Liberty, at a height of 225 ft. Located on the western shore of Staten Island, the site is made up of four sections which contain fifty plus years of landfill, mostly in the form of household waste.
Under local pressure and with support of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the landfill site was officially closed on March 22, 2001. The site had started to become a hazard to employees with packs of feral dogs roaming the landfill as well as thousands of rats. Before the site officially closed, the area was declared a wild bird sanctuary and a number of hawks, falcons, and owls were brought in to cull rat numbers.
However, after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, the landfill was temporarily reopened in order to receive and process much of the debris from the destruction. It is estimated that over a third of the debris from the World Trade Centre was processed and searched at Fresh Kills Landfill for remains of those killed in the attacks.
During the investigation, a virtual city was constructed on the site for those workers and volunteers, police and federal investigators analysing the wreckage. Fresh Kills now remains the resting place of a majority of the debris of the World Trade Center.
The site is now being converted into a park. When finished, Fresh Kills Park will be at 2,200 acres, three times large than Central Park.
Landfills and quarries often seem to be 'forgotten' or dismissed when it comes to large man-made structures. They lack the mystic and allure of skyscrapers and other notable buildings, yet their size is no less impressive.
A diamond mine in Mirny, Russia for example, claims to be the 'biggest hole in the world' with a depth of 525 metres whilst being 1.25 km in diameter. There are rumours that the suction created by the hole resulted in several helicopter crashes, so flying above it is now prohibited.
Another open-pit mine, said to be excavated completely by hand, is the Big Hole or Kimberley Mine in South Africa with a depth of 800m and a diameter of 470m.
Between 1871 and 1914 22.6 million tons of earth and rock were excavated from the mine for a yield of 2,722kg of diamonds.The hole is now filled with water, but one can only imagine what it was like when thousands of men worked in the hole hauling rock up to the surface with cables.
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