A new web site (now in Beta) sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society shows viewers what New York City looked like before it was a city. After nearly a decade of research the The Mannahatta Project uncovers online the original ecology of Manhattan circa 1609. According to the site:
“That’s right, the center of one of the world’s largest and most built-up cities was once a natural landscape of hills, valleys, forests, fields, freshwater wetlands, salt marshes, beaches, springs, ponds and streams, supporting a rich and abundant community of wildlife and sustaining people for perhaps 5000 years before Europeans arrived on the scene in 1609. It turns out that the concrete jungle of New York City was once a vast deciduous forest, home to bears, wolves, songbirds, and salamanders, with clear, clean waters jumping with fish. In fact, with over 55 different ecological communities, Mannahatta’s biodiversity per acre rivaled that of national parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Great Smoky Mountains!”
The goal of the Mannahatta Project is no less than “to re-start the natural history of New York City.” The site includes a virtual Mannahatta map that allows you to see Mannahatta from any location, block-by-block species information, lessons on the science and technology used to create the site, hundreds of layers of digital data, place-based lesson plans for elementary and high school students that meet New York State standards, an online discussion page, and event listing.
Recent updates to Mannahatta include the ability click on a city block to find out what type of plants and animals called it home, whether the Lenape people lived or worked there, and what kind of landscape features appeared on that block. You can also use the slider bar to fade from Mannahatta to modern day to see how the island has changed in the last 400 years.
Last week a related multimedia exhibit “Mannahatta/Manhattan: A Natural History of New York City” also opened at the Museum of the City of New York.
Acclaimed writer Russell Shorto will present “The Accidental Legacy of Henry Hudson” at the Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Avenue at 104th Street, NYC) this Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 6:30 PM. According to the program announcement: “Henry Hudson’s name is everywhere in New York-attached to a river, a street, a park, a bridge, and more-yet little is known about the man himself. Bestselling author and New York Times Magazine contributing writer Russell Shorto, author of the award-winning The Island at the Center of the World (Doubleday, 2004) and Descartes’ Bones (Doubleday, 2008), recently named a New York Times Notable Book for 2008, will consider the story of Henry Hudson.”
Shorto most recently published a feature in The New York Times (Sunday, May 3, 2009) entitled “Going Dutch: How I Learned to Love the Welfare State.”
The program is presented in conjunction with the exhibit Amsterdam / New Amsterdam: The Worlds of Henry Hudson. Reservations are required. The cost will be $12 for non-members, $8 for seniors and students, and $6 for museum members. A $2 surcharge applies for unreserved, walk-in tickets. Tickets may be ordered online at www.mcny.org or by calling 212.534.1672, ext. 3395.
Charles Gehring, Ph.D., Director of the New Netherland Project in Albany, has spent 30 years translating 17th-century documents to uncover the Dutch origins of New York will join Jaap Jacobs, Ph.D., co-curator of Amsterdam / New Amsterdam: The Worlds of Henry Hudson, and one of the scholars who has built on Gehring’s work to rewrite the history of New Netherland will hold a conversation “about myths, memories, and discoveries of New York’s origins, what made New Netherland unique, and why knowledge of these
origins is important for New York and New Yorkers today.”
The event will be held April 11th, at 2 pm at the Museum of The City of New York, 1220 5th Ave,. Reservations are required. For further information about this event contact Paula Zadigian at (212) 534-1672.
A new exhibit “Amsterdam/New Amsterdam: The Worlds of Henry Hudson” opened Saturday at the Museum of the City of New York and will run through September 27, 2009. Presented in collaboration with the New Netherland Institute, Albany, and the National Maritime Museum Amsterdam / Nederlands Scheepvaartmuseum Amsterdam, the exhibit will employ rare 16th- and 17th-century objects, images, and documents from major American and Dutch collections to bring the transatlantic world to life and reveal how Henry Hudson’s epic third voyage of exploration planted the seeds of a modern society that took root and flourished in the New World. Focusing on the economic, cultural, and ideological connections that ultimately linked two global cities, Amsterdam and New York, “Amsterdam / New Amsterdam” will illuminate not only the global significance of Hudson’s voyage, but also the creative context out of which the exploration and settlement of New York itself arose, highlighting the Dutch role in creating the very character of New York as a place of opportunity, tolerance, and perpetual transformation.