Jan 26, 2009

Henry Hudson’s View of New York: When Trees Tipped the Sky

(NYTimes) - What F. Scott Fitzgerald called the “fresh, green breast of the New World” that greeted Henry Hudson 400 years ago has been reimagined by a senior ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Drawing on 18th-century British military maps, the ecologist, Eric W. Sanderson, has painstakingly recreated Manhattan’s rolling landscape — Mannahatta in an American Indian dialect meant “island of many hills,” many of which were all but leveled when the street grid was imposed in the 19th century — that Hudson encountered.
In his coming book, “Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City,” Mr. Sanderson evocatively describes “the old-growth forests, stately wetlands, glittering streams, teeming waters, rolling hills, abundant wildlife and mysterious people.” All in all, a scene hard to reconcile with the contemporary landscape dominated by glass, concrete and asphalt. Continued

Photo: "The Narrows near Peakskill [i.e. Peekskill], Hudson River, New York." William Henry Jackson c1890 (Library of Congress).