The Meadowlands by Robert Sullivan looks at the environment and nature from a different point of view. When I think of nature or wilderness a picture of Yellowstone national park pops in my head. There are mountains, clear skies, plants, animals and a colorful landscape. Robert Sullivan talks about nature from an Urban view which relates more to me since I am from a bigger city. From this reading I now understand more of Urban nature and will now try look at it the way Sullivan did. He wanted to keep the past alive and kept trying to remind people of that. Conservation is a big problem with the increasing demand of homes and everything else we want as humans, but what is amazing is the adaptation of nature to be able to survive in an “urban environment”.
The Meadowlands that are being talked about are located just outside of New York City. Some people may not see beauty in this land because it can be viewed as a gross landfill filled of mosquitoes, trash, smell and even human remains, but he talks about amazing nature that has grown and adapted that environment. Sullivan talks about the history of the Meadowlands and how it has changed over hundreds of years. “Big black snakes are said to once inhabited the Secaucus environs-snake hunts were very popular in the nineteenth century-“(pg 21) This snake is no longer here because of the way us humans changed its environment. This made me think about how we take away animals homes everyday with deforestation, pollution, landfills and also new construction. Do we have the right to do that just because we are superior and physically can? And why do we do this?
After I read “An Achievement of the Future” and learning more history and inventions of these Meadowlands I got the idea that the Meadowlands had potential and was wasted, but to the people who live it, its the biggest well kept secret.
Mosquito were such a big problem in the Meadowlands even before we got to it. “They early Dutch settlers of the area described mosquitoes as big as sparrows.” (pg 107) Then on top of that we, John B. Smith, ended up just making the mosquito problem worse by digging ditches and filling them with flowing water which extinguished the saltwater mosquito problem, but actually increased the number of freshwater mosquitoes in the Meadowlands.
Quotes I found interesting
“Once, there were actual meadows in the Meadowlands, decorated with wildflowers the way they are today littered with bits of paper and plastic and truck tired shards.” (Pg 35)
“People were always trying to invent new uses for the Meadowlands; most people felt anything was better than what was there.” (pg 48)
“..as I look out from the car window, as if the wild roses and the meadow grasses were growing over the graves of those buried hopes.” (pg 56)
“Now Meadow Ridge residents stare out at the only radio towers in the Meadowlands with lights that blink day and night.” (pg 62)
“In the mid-1980s, playing football in the Meadowlands meant possibly risking your life, because shortly after the stadium opened, players for the Giants began developing cancer.” (pg 87)
“at a stream’s source in the modern meadows, this little seep was pure pollution, a pristine stew of oil and grease, of cyanide and arsenic, of cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, silver, mercury, and zinc.” (pg 97)
“The Meadowlands owes its longtime reputation as one of the most disgusting areas in America mostly to three things: trash, industry, and mosquitoes.” (pg 107)
“The person I have called upon to do so on so many occasions is a retired detective from Kearny by the name of John Watson, who also happens to have more experience finding actual bodies in the Meadowlands than anyone I know” (pg 165)
“If you want to make money, you’re better off working at McDonald’s. I just do it for sport” (pg 189)