As featured on GeekDad, a virtual tour of what Manhatten Island looked like at the turn of the 17th century:
The tour shows Manhattan and the surrounding land in its original shape and topography. They’re all there: the salt marshes, ponds, rivers and native settlements, all available at the click of a mouse.
The virtual tour is part of the Mannahatta Project, a decade-long project of the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo. It includes not only the website but a beautifully illustrated hardcover book, and an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York that closes on October 12.
I found the book when I was researching for a fiction story I’m writing set in ancient Manhattan. I quickly discovered that information on this period is scarce. When I found this book, I thought “hey! someone wrote a research book just for me!”
It’s more than a dry list of maps, it’s a fascinating comparison of now and then and a detective story that relied on modern technology for the solution.
The project started with the discovery of a detailed map created by the British military in 1782. This inspired the Wildlife Conservation Society to re-create the island all the way back to 1609 when Henry Hudson sailed in New York Bay. The re-creation relied on old maps, soil cores, and other information which was fed into a geographic information system (GIS) database developed for the project. The result is a virtual map that can be laid over present-day Manhattan with an error of less than 40 meters, or half a block.
Check it out and leave your review in the comments.