Saturday, September 5, 2009

Mannahatta Project

Inwood Hill Park
photomontage by Rosa Phoenix

 The Mannahatta Project poses this question:

"When Henry Hudson first looked on Manhattan in 1609, what did he see?"

The Mannahatta Project at the Wildlife Conservation Society attempts to re-create the island of Manhattan before it was settled by Europeans. 

For those familiar with modern-day, urban Manhattan, it also provides points of reference to the city as it is now.

The Mannahatta Project superimposes two maps together, using Google Maps interface to navigate between them.  

Two layers of Manhattan merge together: the 1609 version was re-created according to historical maps, and the modern-day version comes from Google Maps.

Use the slider at the bottom to move in between the maps, or click on the 1609 map to see what's there today. You can also enter a Manhattan address, or search for a landmark. For example, on the 1609 map, I click on what looks like a marshy wetland in upper Manhattan.

What is now the city block of 93rd and 94th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue was once a very different place.  

When I click on the link "what this place was like in 1609" I get a listing of all the wildlife, plants and animals that would have inhabited this area at that time. I'm surprised that the original inhabitants of the island included mountain lions, bears and foxes.  

The 1609 map layer also shows the villages and trails of the native people who lived there at that time.

Check it out for yourself here:

The Mannahatta Project is also featured in the September 2009 National Geographic.

Click here to learn about Inwood Hill Park, site of Manhattan's sole remaining native forest.

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