City at the Water's Edge: A Natural History of New York

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Overview


Concrete floors and concrete walls, buildings that pierce the sky, taxicabs and subway corridors, a steady din of noise. These things, along with a virtually unrivaled collection of museums, galleries, performance venues, media outlets, international corporations, and stock exchanges make New York City not only the cultural and financial capital of the United States, but one of the largest and most impressive urban conglomerations in the world. With distinctions like these, is it possible to imagine the city as any more than this?

City at the Water's Edge invites readers to do just that. Betsy McCully, a long-time urban dweller, argues that this city of lights is much more than a human-made metropolis. It has a rich natural history that is every bit as fascinating as the glitzy veneer that has been built atop it. Through twenty years of nature exploration, McCully has come to know New York as part of the Lower Hudson Bioregion-a place of salt marshes and estuaries, sand dunes and barrier islands, glacially sculpted ridges and kettle holes, rivers and streams, woodlands and outwash plains. Here she tells the story of New York that began before the first humans settled in the region twelve thousand years ago, and long before immigrants ever arrived at Ellis Island. The timeline that she recounts is one that extends backward half a billion years; it plumbs the depths of Manhattan's geological history and forecasts a possible future of global warming, with rising seas lapping at the base of the Empire State Building.

Counter to popular views that see the city as a marvel of human ingenuity diametrically opposed to nature, this unique account shows how the region has served as an evolving habitat for a diversity of species, including our own. The author chronicles the growth of the city at the expense of the environment, but leaves the reader with a vision of a future city as a human habitat that is brought into balance with nature.

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Editorial Reviews

author of When Dinosaurs Roamed New Jersey - William B. Gallagher

City at the Water's Edge is a natural history of a different stripe. This volume is a true history of the nature of the region, and it explores the impact of civilization on our natural ecosystems.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813539157
  • Publisher: Rivergate Books
  • Publication date: 11/28/2006
  • Series: Rivergate Book Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


BETSY McCULLY is an assistant professor of English at Kingsborough Community College, CUNY. She also works as a volunteer environmental educator.
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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     vii
Introduction: Coming Home     ix
Bedrock New York     1
The Teeming Shore     16
At the Glacier's Edge     32
Land of the Lenapes     45
Staking Claim     62
Muddied Waters     76
Footprints     96
Forests for Trees     111
Urban Flyway     127
Weathering     146
Notes     161
Index     177
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