New York Film Locations

The Mannahatta Project

15 July 2012

In 2009, the Mannahatta Project turned back time and attempted to answer the question, "What did Manhattan Island look like before the Dutch arrived in 1609?"

Before the skyscrappers arrived, the island was covered with green forests, streams and wildlife. After nearly a decade of research, Eric W. Sanderson and his colleagues at the Wildlife Conservation Society, have created a veritable virtual time machine which on a click of the mouse, can reveal any address in Manhattan as it was in 1609. It also shows how man has changed and shaped nature in just a few hundred years on one 26 mile long island in the middle of the Hudson River.

The island that the Lenape Indians called “Mannahatta” or “island of many hills” once contained more than 500 hills, more than 300 springs and 60 miles of streams. There were sandy beaches, oak-pine forests, and more than 1000 species of plants and animals. The aim of the Mannahatta project was to look at how bio-diversity had been replaced by social and cultural diversity. A book has since been published detailing the project and there is also an interactive website:


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