Just north of Golden Gate Fields in Albany, California lies a true human occupied landfill. Known locally as the Bulb, this abandoned landfill reaches out into the San Francisco Bay, and until fairly recently, was home to many human beings.
The ground, if you can call if that, is composed entirely of rubble. Crushed concrete woven with rusty rebar, slag, and clay and glass shards mingle with broken brick, timbers and occasional sheetmetal to form the penninsula itself. Everything that grows there grows because it was dumped or blew in, or drifted in on the tide. Scotch broom and anise plants predominate, with grasses and the occasional cypress or palm. The Bulb is traced by trails, up the small ridge, then to either side, north and south, then down and around and back again. You can't get lost out there. Well, in the daytime you can't, and when there's no fog.
As living somewhere not enclosed by four walls became more and more illegal in California, the homeless of Albany and the surrounding areas were pushed out, west, toward the sea. Across the freeway, away from the manicured parks and underpasses, they congregated. Attracted, perhaps, by the clean air, the quiet, the unobstructed views of the Golden Gate, San Francisco, and Mt. Tamalpais, or maybe by the wealth of washed-up and stacked-up building materials, they stayed. Quite an enclave for a while there, they built houses, castles, subterranean chambers supplied for hard times. They built watchtowers, sculptures and bridges and campfire circles. Beached boats, washed up in long-forgotten storms, became homes to a few. Nestled together in the mud of a small cove, they'd float and rock a bit in high tides. The landfill was home to many folk, homesteaded in the American tradition, built from the refuse of the larger society.
The landfill gradually attracted notice. Some would soil the nest, bringing police in after one scofflaw or another. Art work began appearing. On the north end of the Bulb, at water's edge, huge paintings on splintered plywood, wooden flotsam, were erected. Brightly colored, they recall latin american retablos, populated with figures and events and words somehow familiar. More sculpture grew, on the shore and up above, in the amphitheatre. Local folk interested in alternatives to the established social order in the Bay Area began to venture out to the landfill to camp, to hang out and barbeque and play music. Parties were staged in the amphitheatre, an enclosed depression in the land a little north of center of the place. The amphitheatre is a sculpture garden in itself, a fence of rusted bicycles encloses the unwalled side, the walls slabs of reinforced concrete stacked haphazardly with rebar tangles inviting adornment. A huge rebar angel, head thrown back in ecstatic flight, stands guard over the site. An unbroken slab of concrete serves as a stage, backdrop the bay, the sunset, the mountain of Marin County in the distance, rising behind the storage tanks of the Standard Oil refinery in Richmond. The amphitheatre has hosted a variety of events, Critical Mass Berkeley finds itself there once a year, still, for a free food and noize extravaganza held after the action itself. The amphitheatre survives. In earlier days, the residents of the Bulb would wander out to the parties there, joining the punks and artists in food and revelry.
Gradually, Albany became aware of the community in its midst, created by their own inattention to the needs of human beings, and as any capitalistic society would, they chose to drive these non-producers from their homes. There were a series of round-ups, similar to cattle drives, with police combing the Bulb, rousting individuals, confiscating their belongings, storing these folks in trailers in the racetrack parking lots and throwing them in jail if they tried to return to their homes on this discarded land. Lawsuits were filed, time marched on, and people drifted off. Albany provides no services for the homeless, no legal place to lay a head, and had to justify the uprooting of this community. A park. Of course, it will be a park, where law-abiding folk can walk their dogs. Environmental studies begin, methane pools are tapped, art is documented and the residents are gone. Mostly.
Rumor has it that they never found Mad Mike. His home, on a bluff overlooking the southern beaches is surrounded by a sea of smashed concrete blocks. A path winds over the surface, a path of blocks laid in order somehow, tons of concrete muscled into place by one man. Below this, in the rubble, are said to lie Mike's paths, tunnels, secret bunkers he disappears into when anyone from the outside arrives. His home has a rooftop patio, and the suits of cards laid out in the yard in gravel mosaic. His view rivals that of any million dollar home.
These are my own observations. Much info is available online about the Albany Landfill. Google search that term for documentation of many facets of this place.