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





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.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is to join Mayor Job Cohen of Amsterdam and other Dutch officials this week in heralding the quadricentennial of Hudson’s voyage of discovery up his eponymous river.

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