Saturday, September 20, 2008

Day 92: After Manhattan

What Manhattan used to be, from the Wildlife Conservation Society

Today we're going to the second of three New Museum panels planned in conjunction with their After Nature exhibition. Today's panel is, Manhattan: Past, Present, and Possible Future. The presenters include: Eric W. Sanderson, leader of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Mannahatta Project; Matthew Coolidge of the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI), and author Matthew Sharpe. Eric will discuss Manhattan island in 1609, Matt will speak about “Up River: Points of Interest from The Battery to Troy,” CLUI’s study of the “sculpted landscape” of today’s Hudson River; and Matthew will read from his novel Jamestown, which is partially set in an imaginary future Manhattan.

I am currently reading The World Without Us and have now found it nearly impossible to not consider three very different New Yorks (of past, present and future) as I walk through the city. It requires great imagination to sense the possibility of three since they seem to have so very little in common. It will be interesting to see what today's panel might add to the seemingly narrow set of scenarios that seem available for the future- based on where we have come from and where we are now.

Thoughts to take forward from our live-blog, post-event (9/23/08):
"Eric Sanderson (Mannahatta Project) is the first person to track this type of history for Manhattan. Why until now have we not felt this need to trace this topological, natural and geologic history? What is it about this moment that compels us to want to look back and literally know what kind of environments and landscapes we have cemented over, rearranged, lost? What might we imagine as possible from here with this type of knowledge?"

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