Gotham Unbound: The Ecological History of Greater New York [NOOK Book]

Overview

This is the story of the monumental struggle between New York and the natural world. From Henry Hudson’s discovery of Mannahatta to Hurricane Sandy, Gotham Unbound is Ted Steinberg’s sweeping ecological history of one of the most man-made spots on earth.

Here is a tale of "the world with us"—lots of us—a groundbreaking book that recounts the four-century history of how ...
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Gotham Unbound: The Ecological History of Greater New York

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This item will be available on June 3, 2014.
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Overview

This is the story of the monumental struggle between New York and the natural world. From Henry Hudson’s discovery of Mannahatta to Hurricane Sandy, Gotham Unbound is Ted Steinberg’s sweeping ecological history of one of the most man-made spots on earth.

Here is a tale of "the world with us"—lots of us—a groundbreaking book that recounts the four-century history of how hundreds of square miles of open marshlands became home to six percent of the nation’s population.

Steinberg vividly brings a vanished New York back to 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 bog thickets. 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.

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 is a penetrating history that helps explain how one of the most important cities in the world wound up in such a perilous situation.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 03/31/2014
Describing an island estuary that became one of the world’s most densely populated cities, this fascinating, encyclopedic history views three centuries of continuous transformation of greater New York City through an ecological lens. Brooklyn-born Steinberg (Down to Earth), a professor of law and history at Case Western Reserve University, offers plenty of fodder for New Yorkers’ dinnertime chatter, whether it’s getting to the origins of place names like the Meadowlands or the surprisingly controversial nature of the street grid layout. But his broad vision tells a story of common rights and private property, land grants and landfills, drainage and dams, plumbing and garbage, eutrophication and mosquito control, politics and doublespeak, salt marshes and wetlands, and the deep ecological importance of the points where land meets sea. Steinberg contextualizes New York’s planning choices since the 1970s—when new land was still being created from trash as environmentalism began its rise—and the rise of hazards like heat waves and flooding, helping readers understand events like Hurricane Sandy as more inevitable than shocking. Furthermore, by examining conceptualizations of the green metropolis as ecologically efficient and analyzing how open-space projects are developed, Steinberg’s work strives to makes readers more thoughtful dwellers of the unique urban biome they have created. B&w illus. (June)
Jon Wiener
"The story of how the wild and woodsy Isle of Manhatta in 1609 became the hyperdense city of today. In the centuries-long war between New York and nature, nature lost virtually every battle—but then suddenly, in 2012, Hurricane Sandy exposed the dangers of denial. Ted Steinberg has written a magnificent book that transforms our understanding not just of New York City but of the future that faces all of us."
Adam Rome
"Gotham Unbound is much more than a brilliant book about a great city. I am awed by Ted Steinberg’s ability to make so sprawling a story into a powerful parable about the challenge – and the ultimate folly – of aspiring to limitless growth."
Louis Hyman
"Gotham Unbound goes deeper than underground history; it is underwater history! Steinberg shows how the development of Manhattan's waterways and lands — often out of sight — shaped the creation of today's New York City. He reminds us that unnatural cities stubbornly remain part of the natural world — and that world has a history. To really understand New York City, leave Wall Street behind, put on your hip-waders, and jump in the bog."
Michael Ryan Davis
“Like each of his earlier books, Steinberg's Gotham Unbound is a revelation: in this case of the water world that New York once was and thanks to global warming may yet become again."
Mike Davis
“Like each of his earlier books, Steinberg's Gotham Unbound is a revelation: in this case of the water world that New York once was and thanks to global warming may yet become again."
Karl Jacoby
“What happens when one of America’s great environmental historians studies one of America’s great cities? The result, revealed in the pages of Gotham Unbound, bursts with as many fascinating characters and unforgettable stories as Manhattan itself."
Clyde A. Milner
"The great American city now has a fresh, insightful history that will open readers’ eyes to the ongoing role of nature in an evolving metropolis. It’s a grand account, epic in scope and full of amazing revelations. Give this book to anyone who cares about environmental and urban studies and keep a copy for yourself."
Edwin Burrows
"How did the lush ecosystems of the lower Hudson Valley become one of the world’s premier urban centers, dedicated to the illusion that it could somehow transcend the constraints of the natural world? Ted Steinberg’s explanation in Gotham Unbound is erudite, wise, unfailingly readable—and alarming as hell. This is environmental history at its best, and a must-read for anyone who has ever wondered what lies ahead for New York City."
Walter LaFeber
"Magnificently demonstrated in this unique, highly revealing history of Greater New York, prize-winning author Ted Steinberg is a pioneer in the field of ecological history. From Henry Hudson's magical discoveries in 1609 to Hurricane Sandy's rampant destruction, Steinberg narrates four centuries of never-ending landed fill-ins, destruction of estuaries, and building. Every page about this eastern landed frontier reveals the world's leading city from a fresh, crucially important perspective."
Donald Worster
"This is the best history of an American city I have read—stunningly original, brilliant in research and argument, delightful to read, and vital for our urban future. Whatever New Yorkers may have achieved in the accumulation of wealth or social wellbeing, they have written a tragic story in ecological terms. Henceforth we will not be able to think of the city without also thinking of it as one of the world’s most damaged estuaries and of the teeming diversity of plant and animal life that once lived here."
Eric Rauchway
"Steinberg brings to the center of New York's history what nowadays we mostly see only at its edges: the sea breezes and river currents, the creatures that swarm under and the ships that sail over the harbor's waters - waters on which the city's inhabitants have advanced with waste and fill for centuries. Even the trim outlines of Manhattan island represent the boundaries of aggressive settlement, as human New Yorkers, like successful Canutes, have pushed back the tides. Steinberg's story shows how literally the city is the product of ambition and invention, its very shorelines the result of commercial desires. Lively, deeply researched, and well told, a pleasure to read and cogitate upon."
Michael Kazin
"Ted Steinberg has written a historical masterpiece— a remarkably original and superbly crafted book about the relentless making and unmaking of the landscape of America’s greatest, most protean city. Gotham Unbound will enlighten anyone who cares about the past and future of New York."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781476741307
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 6/3/2014
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 544
  • Sales rank: 578,148

Meet the Author

Ted Steinberg is the Adeline Barry Davee Distinguished Professor of History and Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University. Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1961, Steinberg has held fellowships from the Michigan Society of Fellows, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and Yale University. He has worked as an environmental historian for twenty-five years and is the author of five other books.
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