Session #9 Response: Mannahatta

The Mannahatta reading painstakingly chronicles the steps that a team of researchers followed in order to recreate a map of a "primeval" (as they called it, in quotes) Manhattan, with its many biomes and varied flora and fauna. In order to do this, they scoured various sources of data--from old maps, literary/biographical texts, and even the contemporary shoreline and topography of the island of Manhattan.

The end result actually puts our flooding map into context: much of the higher ground in Harlem was covered in forests, while contemporary areas at a lower sea level like Tribeca (our site of choice) was covered in sandy beach-like areas--today, there is a clear parallel between the areas that were naturally allowed to flood or were generally "wetter" and the areas that today are getting ransacked during flooding. Also, when putting this reading in context, I was thinking about Kate Orff/SCAPE studio's recent work with the proposition of oyster reefs as a way to not only diversify the aquatic ecosystem around Manhattan but to relieve the intensity of flooding around the island. The extremely diverse marine life that existed around Manhattan probably also mitigated extreme effects of bad weather and kept the Island in a state of equilibrium.

One of the things that I think our team can take away from this reading is to scour more diverse sources outside of GIS data and interviews in order to contextualize our eventual map: historic photographs of flooding around Tribeca (not just from Sandy), blogs where people describe the flooding, and the larger ecosystems and infrastructure around Manhattan that makes Tribeca particularly susceptible to flooding.

Show Comments