Gotham Unbound

Gotham Unbound

The Ecological History of Greater New York

Book - 2014 | First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.
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Winner of the 2015 PROSE Award for US History

A "fascinating, encyclopedic history...of greater New York City through an ecological lens" ( Publishers Weekly , starred review)--the sweeping story of one of the most man-made spots on earth.

Gotham Unbound recounts the four-century history of how hundreds of square miles of open marshlands became home to six percent of the nation's population. Ted Steinberg brings a vanished New York back to vivid, rich life. You will see the metropolitan area anew, not just as a dense urban goliath but as an estuary once home to miles of oyster reefs, wolves, whales, and blueberry bogs. That world gave way to an onslaught managed by thousands, from Governor John Montgomerie, who turned water into land, and John Randel, who imposed a grid on Manhattan, to Robert Moses, Charles Urstadt, Donald Trump, and Michael Bloomberg.

"Weighty and wonderful...Resting on a sturdy foundation of research and imagination, Steinberg's volume begins with Henry Hudson's arrival aboard the Half Moon in 1609 and ends with another transformative event--Hurricane Sandy in 2012" ( The Plain Dealer , Cleveland). This book is a powerful account of the relentless development that New Yorkers wrought as they plunged headfirst into the floodplain and transformed untold amounts of salt marsh and shellfish beds into a land jam-packed with people, asphalt, and steel, and the reeds and gulls that thrive among them.

With metropolitan areas across the globe on a collision course with rising seas, Gotham Unbound helps explain how one of the most important cities in the world has ended up in such a perilous situation. "Steinberg challenges the conventional arguments that geography is destiny....And he makes the strong case that for all the ecological advantages of urban living, hyperdensity by itself is not necessarily a sound environmental strategy" ( The New York Times ).
Publisher: New York ; Toronto : Simon & Schuster, c2014.
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.
ISBN: 9781476741246
Characteristics: xxii, 517 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm.


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ChristchurchLib Sep 30, 2014

From tidal estuary to global metropolis, New York City has undergone constant and dramatic change since Henry Hudson first sighted Manhattan in 1609. Spanning four centuries and countless transformations, this comprehensive natural history of the Big Apple reveals a complex tale of colonialism (Dutch investors "purchased the Island Manhattes" for a mere 60 guilders and drained most of the marshes); urban planning (the English dumped garbage into the water to create more land); ecology (actual wolves once roamed Wall Street) and - more recently, in the wake of natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy - reclamation and preservation of a unique and fragile ecosystem that will continue, with our without human intervention, to reinvent itself. Science and Nature Newsletter October 2014.

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