On September 12, 1609, Henry Hudson first set foot on the land that would become Manhattan. Today, it’s difficult 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 now call home. By geographically matching an 18th-century map with one of the modern city, examining volumes of historic documents, and collecting and analyzing scientific data, Sanderson re-creates the forests of Times Square, the meadows of Harlem, and the wetlands of downtown. His lively text guides readers through this abundant landscape, while breathtaking illustrations transport them back in time. Mannahatta is a groundbreaking work that provides not only a window into the past, but also inspiration for the future.
Reconstructs the ecological history of Manhattan through period maps, archeological discoveries, and computational geography to create pictures and descriptions of Manhattan from 1609 to the present day.
The Atlantic Coast and the Transformation of New England
Author: Christopher L. Pastore
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Christopher Pastore traces how Narragansett Bay’s ecology shaped the contours of European habitation, trade, and resource use, and how littoral settlers in turn, over two centuries, transformed a marshy fractal of water and earth into a clearly defined coastline, which proved less able to absorb the blows of human initiative and natural variation.
The History, Sea Life, and Environment of New York Harbor, Revised Edition
Author: John Waldman
Publisher: Fordham Univ Press
Heartbeats in the Muck traces the incredible arc of New York Harbor’s environmental history. Once a pristine estuary bristling with oysters and striped bass and visited by sharks, porpoises, and seals, the harbor has been marked by centuries of rampant industrialization and degradation of its natural environment. Garbage dumping, oil spills, sewage sludge, pesticides, heavy metals, poisonous PCBs, landfills, and dredging greatly diminished life in the harbor, in some places to nil. Now, forty years after the Clean Water Act began to resurrect New York Harbor, John Waldman delivers a new edition of his New York Society Library Award–winning book. Heartbeats in the Muck is a lively, accessible narrative of the animals, water quality, and habitats of the harbor. It includes captivating personal accounts of the author’s explorations of its farthest and most noteworthy reaches, treating readers to an intimate environmental tour of a shad camp near the George Washington Bridge, the Arthur Kill (home of the resurgent heron colonies), the Hackensack Meadowlands, the darkness under a giant Manhattan pier, and the famously polluted Gowanus Canal. A new epilogue details some of the remarkable changes that have come upon New York Harbor in recent years. Waldman’s prognosis is a good one: Ultimately, environmental awareness and action has allowed the harbor to begin cleaning itself. Although it will never regain its native biological glory, the return of oysters, herons, and a host of other creatures is an indication of New York Harbor’s rebirth. This excellent, engaging introduction to the ecological issues surrounding New York Harbor will appeal to students and general readers alike. Heartbeats in the Muck is a must-read for anyone who likes probing the wilds, whether country or city, and natural history books such as Beautiful Swimmers and Mannahatta.
From 1815 to 1865, as city blocks encroached on farmland to accommodate Manhattan’s exploding population, prosperous New Yorkers developed new ideas about what an urban environment should contain—ideas that poorer immigrants resisted. As Catherine McNeur shows, taming Manhattan came at the cost of amplifying environmental and economic disparities.
This book offers a comprehensive overview of the intellectual developments in urban conservation. The authors offer unique insights from UNESCO's World Heritage Centre and the book is richly illustrated with colour photographs. Examples are drawn from urban heritage sites worldwide from Timbuktu to Liverpool to demonstrate key issues and best practice in urban conservation today. The book offers an invaluable resource for architects, planners, surveyors and engineers worldwide working in heritage conservation, as well as for local authority conservation officers and managers of heritage sites.
Researching the Histories and Mysteries of a Property
Author: Eleanor Phillips Brackbill
Publisher: SUNY Press
Three mysteries precipitate an investigation into an otherwise ordinary suburban property, revealing a past inextricably woven into four centuries of American history. When Eleanor Phillips Brackbill bought her suburban Westchester house in 2000, three mysteries came with it. First, from the former owner, came the information that the 1930s house was “a Sears house or something like that.” Thrilled to think it might be a Sears, Roebuck & Co. mail-order house, Brackbill was determined to find evidence to prove it. She found instead a house pedigree of a different sort. Second, and even more provocative, was the discovery of several iron stakes protruding from the property’s enormous granite outcropping, bigger in square footage than the house itself. When queried about them, the former owner told her, “Someone a long time ago kept monkeys there, chained to the stakes.” Monkeys? Was this some kind of suburban legend? A third mystery came to light at closing, when a building inspector’s letter contained a reference to the house having had, at one time, a different address. Why would the house have had another address? Her curiosity aroused, and intent upon finding the facts, Brackbill gradually peeled back layers of history, allowing the house and the land to tell their stories, and uncovering a past inextricably woven into four centuries of American history. At the same time, she found thirty-two owners, across 350 years, who had just one thing in common: ownership of a particular parcel of land. An Uncommon Cape not only tells the story of an eight-year odyssey of fact-finding and speculation but also answers the broader question: “What came before?” and, through material presented in twenty-two sidebars, offers readers insights and guidelines on how to find the stories behind their own homes. “A detective story set in her own backyard, Eleanor Phillips Brackbill’s book shows the rich stories even our own homes can tell us if we take the time to hear them. What to most looks like a common residential Cape-style home in a suburban neighborhood can tell us more about ourselves as New Yorkers than anything we learned about in school. This book is a testament to the value of historic preservation and an appreciation of all that is our past, including our victories, our failures, and our faults.” — Jay A. DiLorenzo, President, Preservation League of New York “Eleanor Phillips Brackbill’s in-depth genealogy/biography of the house in which she lives and the land on which it sits is a brilliantly written model of superb research and storytelling. It recognizes the opportunity, perhaps the responsibility, to learn and record and pass along to future generations all that can be found out about the history of property for which we are transient stewards. Her Uncommon Cape is a perfect vehicle for bringing back to life four centuries of enthralling regional (and American) history while allowing many interrelated, but yet unsolved, mysteries to live on. Brackbill ably succeeds in convincing us that the past is not even past!” — Charles Duell, President, Middleton Place Foundation and author of Middleton Place: A Phoenix Still Rising “Home ownership has become, for better and for worse, a profound part of contemporary American identity. Eleanor Phillips Brackbill delves into this terrain—quite literally—by piecing together the genealogy of her home, which she reconstructs through diligent archival detective work (and even the occasional late-night trek through the woods). As such, her study is as much about the craft of historical inquiry as it is about the vicissitudes of a particular chunk of real estate. With sidebars that offer research tips placed throughout the text, the book will be a useful guide for those interested in pursuing their own historical investigations.” — Michael Lobel, author of James Rosenquist: Pop Art, Politics, and History in the 1960s “A page-turning read. I got totally caught up in the history of a county, a country, and a sturdy little house. Brackbill’s meticulous research fascinates and will cause me to dig into my own house’s story—its moves, its occupants, and its alterations.” — Lucy Hedrick, author and publishing coach
Given the realities of climate change and sea-level rise, coastal cities around the world are struggling with questions of resilience. Resilience, at its core, is about desirable states of the urban social-ecological system and understanding how to sustain those states in an uncertain and tumultuous future. How do physical conditions, ecological processes, social objectives, human politics, and history shape the prospects for resilience? Most books set out "the answer.” This book sets out a process of grappling with holistic resilience from multiple perspectives, drawing on the insights and experiences of more than fifty scholars and practitioners working together to make Jamaica Bay in New York City an example for the world. Prospects for Resilience establishes a framework for understanding resilience practice in urban watersheds. Using Jamaica Bay—the largest contiguous natural area in New York, home to millions of New Yorkers, and a hub of global air travel with John F. Kennedy International Airport—the authors demonstrate how various components of social-ecological systems interact, ranging from climatic factors to plant populations to human demographics. They also highlight essential tools for creating resilient watersheds, including monitoring and identifying system indicators; computer modeling; green infrastructure; and decision science methods. Finally, they look at the role and importance of a "boundary organization” like the new Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay in coordinating and facilitating resilience work, and consider significant research questions and prospects for the future of urban watersheds. Prospects for Resiliencesets forth an essential foundation of information and advice for researchers, urban planners, students and others who need to create more resilient cities that work with, not against, nature.