The closest the average visitor will get to wild life in NYC is a bear market – or perhaps the Central Park crack possums that populate urban myths. However, one of the most densely populated cities in the planet (more than eight million people over 783.8 km sq and counting) was not always this way. Alphabet City once boasted fields populated by deer mice, Eastern chipmunks and black bears, Harlem was home to grasslands where you may have stumbled across a raccoon or bob cat…

This book recreates what Manhattan looked like when Henry Hudson happened upon it back in 1609.  An interactive map  enables to you explore the city’s flora and fauna of 400 years ago, block by block. While the richly rendered images have a tendency to idealise the natural wilderness the aim of the project is not so much to look back, but to look forward. By presenting New Yorker’s with an image of what it once was, it poses the question, what could New York be in the future.

As author Eric Sanderson writes, “New York does not lack for dystopian visions of its future. . . . But what is the vision of the future that works? Might it lie in Mannahatta, the green heart of New York…?”

Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City, by Eric W. Sanderson.