vintage, nostalgia and memories


August 3, 2017

Before Urbanization: Here's What New York City's Residents Looked Like 400 Years Ago

400 years after Hudson found New York harbor, Eric Sanderson shares how he made a 3D map of Mannahatta's fascinating pre-city ecology of hills, rivers, wildlife -- accurate down to the block -- when Times Square was a wetland and you couldn't get delivery.

On September 12, 1609, Henry Hudson first set eyes on the land that would become Manhattan. It's difficult for us to imagine what he saw, but for more than a decade, landscape ecologist Eric Sanderson has been working to do just that. Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City is the astounding result of those efforts, reconstructing, in words and images, the wild island that millions of New Yorkers now call home.

By geographically matching an 18th-century map of Manhattan's landscape to the modern cityscape, combing through historical and archaeological records, and applying modern principles of ecology and computer modeling, Sanderson is able to re-create the forests of Times Square, the meadows of Harlem, and the wetlands of downtown. Filled with breathtaking illustrations that show what Manhattan looked like 400 years ago, Mannahatta is a groundbreaking work that gives readers not only a window into the past, but inspiration for green cities and wild places of the future





Photos from E. Sanderson, Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City (NY: Abrams, 2009)



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