Agriculture Street Landfill Opening and Operations

Stop 1 of 7 on the Gordon Plaza tour.

In 1909, Agriculture Street Landfill (ASL) opened to accommodate trash produced by half of New Orleans residents. ASL occupied 95 acres of previously undeveloped swampland surrounded by Abundance Street, Industry Street, and the Northeastern Railroad Company tracks. The new landfill received trash via train cars. Employees either burned the deposits in open fires or buried them underground. [1, 2] By 1912, employees began freely using toxic disinfectants to treat infestations and stenches permeating from the landfill. [3] In 1914, landfill operators oversaw the erection of an incinerator. [4]

Through the 1930s, the amount of waste produced in New Orleans dramatically increased. Trash deposits overloaded the ASL incinerator and employees once again burned excess garbage in the open air. In 1939, the Works Progress Administration refurbished the incinerator, tripling its daily capacity. [5, 6]  


City officials did not enforce sanitary regulations at ASL. In 1957, City Sanitation Director George M. Rittiner said it was "only necessary to use six- to 10- inch cover" when remediating the landfill’s trash laden soil, even though he acknowledged the regulations recommended two feet of cover. [7] As garbage mounted at ASL, residents of the surrounding neighborhood expressed growing dissatisfaction with the landfill’s unsanitary conditions.

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Gordon Plaza, New Orleans, LA