The New Jersey harbor and connecting rivers were the lifeblood of trade and industry in the era before railroads and automobiles gained prominence. Where once all industrial areas were located along ship- ping routes, they were later liberated to move inland, in closer proximity to freight and truck routes. The resultant waterfront sites, now abandoned, are both desirable for development and contaminated by their previous uses.
This project investigates two approaches to the issue of underutilized industrial sites: New Jersey’s Brownfield Cleanup Program’s example site at Elizabeth, New Jersey, and the work of artist Robert Smithson in his home town of Passaic, New Jersey.
The NJ Brownfield Cleanup Program seeks to revitalize the underutilized, polluted industrial areas for economic and environmental benefit. Robert Smithson’s work The Monuments of Passaic, of 1967 sought to document entropy as the process of industrial decay that created a new landscape. The Brownfield program resets the clock on the entropy that had occurred on these sites, rejuvenating them for a new generation of decay.