Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City

Mannahatta A Natural History of New York City On September Henry Hudson first set eyes on the land that would become Manhattan It s difficult for us to imagine what he saw but for than a decade landscape ecologist Eric Sanderson has b

  • Title: Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City
  • Author: Eric W. Sanderson Markley Boyer
  • ISBN: 9780810996335
  • Page: 321
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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 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 islaOn 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 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

    354 Comment

    • Yuki Shimmyo says:

      I reallyreally wanted to be able to give this 5 stars. I give 5 stars for the 10 years of painstaking research, the amazing digitalized images of NYC as it would have looked the day Henry Hudson arrived 400 years ago, the old maps, botanical prints, inspiration and message. But Sanderson's text is dry and pedantic, and seems to be addressed to 8 year-olds who need the explanation that landscape is not just a bunch of shrubs to a "landscape ecologist" with a PhD such as he. In the book THE WORLD [...]

    • Aharon says:

      Typical pigeon-and-beaver propaganda.

    • Eliza says:

      I read this for the spatial modeling & GIS methods used for the Mannahatta project. In that regard, I was rewarded w/ rich detail & well-made, beautifully mapped, intensely researched work recreating the historic landscapes, hydrography, topography, habitats, soil types, & species distributions of Manhattan island in 1609. He describes the processes step-by-step of the models he wrote & the layers he overlaid, making his methods very applicable not just for his Mannahatta project [...]

    • Garrett Cash says:

      This not like anything I would typically read, I'm not a big earth-science guy. This book was fascinating though, and it made me want to read more scientific books that aren't slogs like the textbooks. Unfortunately the writer for the book wasn't the best (you can't expect someone to be a great writer AND scientist!). The section about the future of Manhattan made a lot of claims that seemed unnecessary and self-assured. The pictures were very interesting, and a lot of the things Sanderson says [...]

    • AJ says:

      Just took a look at this book today in the library. Beautiful, thick pages and stunning full color photos. What a cool project! I love the side-by-side comparisons of Mannahatta with modern day Manhattan.

    • Bob Ferrante says:

      FascinatingIf you prefer your history interspersed with natural history; if you want to know as much (or more than) about what lies beneath the soil as what's on tv, you'll enjoy this fascinating journey.

    • Todd Stockslager says:

      Illustrations by Markley BoyerSanderson and Boyer turn detective to create a probabilistic time machine and show a plausible picture of what Manhattan could have looked like in 1609 when it was first seen by European eyes. While Boer's name is in smaller font on the cover, in reality he deserves at least equal billing because his photo-realistic overhead images of 1609 Mannahatta are spectacular enough to rate this a 5-star "What a classic!"Sanderson's text is just detailed and scientific enough [...]

    • Gabriella says:

      Interesting book about what Manhattan looked like in 1609, with gorgeous illustrations. I found it to be a fast read, even though the text is a bit dry. I did find the last chapter, about what Manhattan might look like in 2409, a little bit strange. Sanderson suggests abandoning subways in favor of streetcars as a form of mass transit without explaining why he thinks subways need to go. He also suggests a more "mixed use" metropolitan area, with farms returning to specific portions of Brooklyn, [...]

    • Elizabeth says:

      Eric Sanderson moved from California to work at the Bronx Zoo (New York Zoological Park) and because of a British map created during the Revolutionary War, became fascinated with the idea of what Manhattan looked like before Henry Hudson arrived. This beautifully produced book should not intimidate you seems very long, but it is actually profusely illustrated with images of long ago Mannahatta. The original island of streams and hills was where native Americans would come to hunt and fish in the [...]

    • Stephanie says:

      Fascinating look at the changes in Manhattan over the past four hundred years. Having lived in the city, I love the history of how the city has changed, and I love to look at old maps of the city, fitting in the images of the way it was then with the way it is now.[return][return]From a natural history standpoint, this is a perfect example of that -- the renderings of how the island must have looked in 1609 and the descriptions of how the team that worked on the images came to make them are equa [...]

    • Lynn says:

      Mostly pictures, really interesting ones. This is a landscape ecologist's attempt to reconstruct what Manhattan island was like before Europeans arrived. He estimates that the island was occupied by humans for about 10,000 years before Hudson, but they had a much lighter footprint that the current inhabitants. Fascinating. I am starting to thing of myself as an island person.Actually, having gone through most of it, I think it is worth looking though for the pictures, but the text is highly spec [...]

    • Diane says:

      A beautiful book to just look at - maps, pictures, computer generated views of New York in 1609, the year Henry Hudson sailed up the river. I was intrigued with the project to re-create Manhattan of 1609 and enjoyed reading about finding maps, tracing bird sightings, reading old accounts of hunting, etc. The book seems to be part of a tribute to the 400 year anniversary of the discovery of Manhattan and the parts that are paean to the city are pretty boring. But, the pictures and charts are more [...]

    • Kruip says:

      Sanderson and Boyer wrote a beautiful book on the natural history of Manhattan, the ecological history, the interaction of pre-European "man" and the natural habitat Mannahatta, once was. Into the heyday of the concrete city of this day and age, and a splendid view on the re-invention of the future agglomeration, especially it's turn towards ecology.Or should I rephrase? Either the necessary turn, and a possible turn, of the city-machine, into the city-greenery. If only for the natural cooling c [...]

    • Stephen says:

      Fantastic pictures, reconstructing what Manhattan Island looked like when the Indians inhabited it and Europeans were just arriving. The are contrasted verso with pictures of today. We got this lovely book as a gift; it might be expensive for the library of someone who is not really interested in the history and ecology of New York City. I would love to see the author do similar views of other cities, say 12th Century London or Paris.

    • Margaret Sankey says:

      Absolutely stunning and lavishly produced work on the geographic history of Manhattan Island, from before Dutch contact through the evolution of the urban metropolis, and the effects on the surrounding ecology--oyster beds, the Hudson River, marshland, old cemeteries, storm drains, the importation of European trees, the spiritual life of the Lenape, passenger pigeons and sandbars. I wish I had been able to see the museum exhibit developed from this--you know how much I love topographical maps.

    • Billy says:

      A marvelously inventive reconstruction of Manhattan Island on the eve of Henry Hudson's voyage up the river that bears his name in 1609. Using the latest techniques of digital cartography and the science of ecology, Sanderson lays out in graphic detail what the island was like 400 years ago. An added plus is his optimistic vision of a sustainable future that we can create in this place of abundance.

    • Topher says:

      I'm not really clear why, on a search of 'Manahatta' this is the _9th_ book on the list (and "Chasing Harry Winston" is the first), but whatever This is a massive book - but with 150 pages of appendices and thick paper for the pages, not to mention an abundance of illustrations, it's also a quick read, and a beautiful book to enjoy.

    • Eric says:

      This was an incredible undertaking, to recreate a detailed map of the natural world on Manhattan at the time the Dutch arrived. The book was fun to look through, but too dry to read word-for-word. I recommend taking a look at the website: themannahattaproject/ and clicking on explore to interact with the map as well.

    • s says:

      Nice coffee table book for New Yorkers, but it was somehow unsatisfying. It feels like a guide to how a data set was assembled, with example figures, but sans the data. This would be a perfect digital book: something that could hybridize the information and images from the book with the website interface here: welikia/explore/mannahatta

    • T. says:

      Very well done. A little too much on flora and fauna for me but that's the author's mandate for such a project. Nice historic review of the first landings of Henry Hudson, et al; the world before them; and the changes hence. Still, sad to look at the exquisite renderings and ponder deeply what was, what is and the losses of the Native Americans. Highly recommended.

    • Davey says:

      After reading Two Years Before the Mast, I'd squint at the california coastline to block out buildings and highways, trying to imagine what life was like when San Diego was a dusty trader town and Los Angeles didn't have a crown of smog. This book lets me do that with manhattan, but now I don't have to squint.

    • Ames says:

      4 stars for the first six chapters; could've done without the last. The pictures are of course the highlight, but the text is clear and interesting, if a little more simplified than I'd have liked. But I guess that's what the extensive notes/bibliography/appendices and the Mannahatta (now Welikia) Project website are for.

    • Armand says:

      This book really disappointed me. I'd been looking forward to reading it for a long time. It is very dull, acerbic, scholarly and clinical. Too dull to read at any kind of level other than as a repository for data.

    • Judi says:

      If you have ever wondered what the US looked like before the settlers arrived this a book for you! The way Sanderson was able to recreate that landscape is incredible. It is also on heavy paper with wonderful maps. Did I read every word? Well no but I loved every picture

    • Patricia Kerster says:

      A fascinating and incredibly-researched history of the island of Manhattan, and how it looked and worked 400 years ago. Wonderful current pictures next to renditions of what the island looked like in 1609.

    • Sarah says:

      This wasn't quite what I expected--not just OMG there were beavers living in Midtown! It's science-oriented, but not too over the head of a lay person with a humanities degree like me. The tone was erudite, yet friendly. I also found the speculations about the future of Manhattan intriguing.

    • J. D. says:

      This book is the result of a tour-de-force in historical scholarship and ecological modeling. It is well-illustrated with ordinance maps, paintings, computer-generated topographic studies, probable species lists, and many other unique visual aids. Read it. Study it.

    • Stephen Hren says:

      Interesting for those who've spent some time in the city. Thought-provoking for folks like myself who think about our interactions with nature, and especially as we live together in the close quarters of urban environments.

    • MikeFromQueens says:

      The author did a great job in computer modeling based on the exhaustive catalog of flora (and some fauna) of the island. The generated pictures were interesting, and the insight into the natives' lives was enlightening. Overall, it felt like a coffee-table book to me.

    • Mason says:

      Weighing-in at 3.8 pounds, this doorstop sits on the high-end of the "curl-up with a good book" scale. Fortunately, the workout was worth it. Whether you are interested in ecology or just want to know a little more about a favorite place, this is a book for you.

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