Vintage Thomas Edison Film Shows Rikers Island and Its Landfill in 1903

This two-minute vintage film from Edison Studios shows the expansion of Rikers Island using landfill in 1903, as seen from a boat circling the perimeter of the island.

The film was photographed from a boat going around Riker's Island. Located on the East River north of Hell Gate between the Bronx and Queens, Riker's Island was the site of a massive New York City landfill operation at the time of the filming (originally eighty-seven acres, by 1939 the size of the island had increased to four hundred acres). The film includes scenes of heavy equipment at work, including pile drivers constructing the seawall and steam shovels unloading rubbish from barges.

Check out the specimen page on the Library of Congress digital collection for more.

Rikers Island
Matt Coneybeare

Matt Coneybeare

Editor in Chief

Matt enjoys exploring the City's food scene with his Wife and the outdoors with their dog. He is an avid marathon runner, and spends most of his time eating, running, and working on cool stuff.

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