Ever wondered what New York like before it was a city? Welcome to Mannahatta, 1609.
Now, after nearly a decade of research, the Mannahatta Project at the Wildlife Conservation Society has un-covered the original ecology of Manhattan. 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!
I’ve seen a lot of maps showing how land has changed over time, usually featuring a number of overlays representing eras. However, this is the first time I have seen photo-realistic computer recreations showing an area in the past, and I think it is effectively enables you to mentally time-travel.