Gotham Unbound: 2 of 3: The Ecological History of Greater New York by Ted Steinberg

Oct 08, 12:44 AM


(Photo:Broadway looking north

 Attributed to Silas A. Holmes (American, 1820 - 1886) (1820 - 1886) – photographer (American) Details of artist on Google Art Project - lwH-i5Fp41JCMw at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level

[(This bracketed description is not from the Getty Museum or the Google Art Project.) On the right of the picture is the extant E. V. Haughwout Building, occupying the northeast corner of the intersection of Broadway and Broome Street, and at left is 495 Broadway, which is north of Broome Street, so the camera must be at Broome Street, rather than south of it. Haughwout opened in 1857 (LPC:11 and 42) and by late 1859, 495 Broadway had been replaced by a new cast-iron building for Grover and Baker (Gobright:113, SA:303 and this image with a similar view), so the picture must have been taken in 1857, 1858, or 1859. Also of dating interest are the signs on the side and front of 501 for Stodart & Morris, established in 1856 (Clinkscale:360 col. 1); the photo-related business of E. Anthony had taken over 501 by May 1860 (Gobright:145). The St. Nicholas Hotel comprises both the white building (c.) and the dark building just north (right) of it. Sources, plus two helpful maps, are: Clinkscale, Martha N. Makers of the Piano Vol. 2 New York, Oxford University Press, 1999 Gobright (John Christopher) & Pratt The Union Sketch-book, (New York, Pudney & Russell, 1860) (LPC) SoHo - Cast Iron Historic District Designation Report, New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (August 14, 1973) (SA) “The Growth of the Sewing-machine Business” Scientific American New Series Vol. 1 No. 19 (New York, November 5, 1859) online at Cornell University Library Perris, William Maps of the City of New York Vol. 2 Plate 30 (William Perris, 1852) at The New York Public Library Digital Collections Image ID: 1269998 Perris, William Map of the City of New York 3rd ed. Vol. 2 Plate 22 (New York, Perris & Browne, 1857) at The New York Public Library Digital Collections Image ID: 1268310]

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Gotham Unbound: 2 of 3: The Ecological History of Greater New York by Ted Steinberg

Gotham Unbound recounts the four-century history of how hundreds of square miles of open marshlands became home to six percent of the nation’s population. Ted Steinberg brings a vanished New York back to vivid, rich life. You will see the metropolitan area anew, not just as a dense urban goliath but as an estuary once home to miles of oyster reefs, wolves, whales, and blueberry bogs. That world gave way to an onslaught managed by thousands, from Governor John Montgomerie, who turned water into land, and John Randel, who imposed a grid on Manhattan, to Robert Moses, Charles Urstadt, Donald Trump, and Michael Bloomberg.

“Weighty and wonderful…Resting on a sturdy foundation of research and imagination, Steinberg’s volume begins with Henry Hudson’s arrival aboard the Half Moon in 1609 and ends with another transformative event—Hurricane Sandy in 2012” (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland). This book is a powerful account of the relentless development that New Yorkers wrought as they plunged headfirst into the floodplain and transformed untold amounts of salt marsh and shellfish beds into a land jam-packed with people, asphalt, and steel, and the reeds and gulls that thrive among them.

With metropolitan areas across the globe on a collision course with rising seas, Gotham Unbound helps explain how one of the most important cities in the world has ended up in such a perilous situation. “Steinberg challenges the conventional arguments that geography is destiny….And he makes the strong case that for all the ecological advantages of urban living, hyperdensity by itself is not necessarily a sound environmental strategy” (Th...