As the year draws to a close, the final days have arrived for a unique, unplanned wilderness in Long Island City, Queens. Demolition crews are now clearing the land in Hunter's Point South, where a wild forest grew untended for the past three decades, high above the shores of the East River. Workers began removing the trees and meadows here in September, and an official groundbreaking was held in November, launching the second phase of a megaproject that will bring 5,000 new apartments and a strip of waterfront parkland to the neighborhood. This next phase of development, many years in the works, brings the remarkably long run of this untamed space to an end and closes the door on a final year-long cycle of transgressive action.
As of the first thaw of March, the Hunter's Point South site was still largely dormant and provided few hints of what was to come. "I think for me in the winter, there was an anticipation and an imagination of what it would be like in the future," said Daniel Campo, reflecting on this earlier exploration. Over the next few months, a thick blanket of flowers, grasses, and vines would cover the site, luring in a variety of species, including doves, dragonflies, and bees. "To see how thick it had grown is this incredible, exciting experience," said Campo, whose book The Accidental Playground explored a similar overgrown site on the Williamsburg waterfront. "Trying to walk through that and having that visceral connection to the landscape is something we don't get to experience in city parks."