In 2009, Landscape Ecologist Eric Sanderson presented an alternative version of NYC urban history in a TED talk, entitled “Pictures of New York – Before the City,” which provided a never before glimpse into what Manhattan might have looked like when Henry Hudson & his crew sailed towards it on September 12, 1609.
The Welikia Project, formally The Mannahatta Project, is an interactive map that adds a 400-year-old visual overlay of the former landscape ecology of New York City and surrounding boroughs. The name Welikia means “my good home” and was spoken by the Lenape people who used to inhabit the island. The science of the project uses georeferenced historical data and field samples collected over several years, which together create a multi-layered map of the Muir Web or ecological community in question.
The rapidly expanding ecological lexicon of Welikia, which is still working to generate new data well into 2013, creates an entirely new dialogue for understanding the shared ecology between cities. It forces us, however difficult; to reconsider the impermanence of architecture and urban planning alongside the equally important fragility of the environment that neighbors every corner of our modern infrastructure. In many ways, the protection of “natural systems” continues to create new opportunities for using Geographic Information Systems to enhance the study of landscape ecology and ways that it can be added to classrooms in and outside of New York City.
How could Welikia Project inspire new ways to shape a shared consciousness surrounding our relationship to local landscape ecology?
How is this being done in your city? Please, share your thoughts.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.