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  Field Notes From
Swamps of Jersey: The Meadowlands

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From Author

Richard Conniff

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From Photographer

Melissa Farlow

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Jodi Cobb (top) and Randy Olson

image: compass
In a Former Trash Heap

Field Notes From Author
Richard Conniff
The Meadowlands are smack dab in the middle of one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the country. Despite this fact I spent days out in a canoe and didn’t see another person on the water. I wondered where all the fishermen, birders, and even jet skiers had gone. The isolation of the place was amazing. The stench coming from a waste water treatment plant was unpleasant. Just as smelly is the level of political corruption. One marsh that I visited is now controlled by developers because of a so-called business arrangement that was made in the 1970s. These developers allegedly paid a bribe to local officials for use of the land. And even though the officials eventually went to jail, the developers 99-year rent-free lease is still valid. There are many weird stories surrounding the Meadowlands. At one time Donald Trump wanted to build a Roman theme park here. There was also talk of erecting some sort of Stonehenge on top of a dump. And one woman proudly informed me that the Tidy Bowl man now lives in Secaucus.

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