High Rock and the Greenbelt: The Making of New York City's Largest Park

Overview

In 1976, the influential journalist and National Geographic editor John G. Mitchell published a book in the hopes of saving a precious part of Staten Island, where he and his family had lived for many years. The book, High Rock: A Natural and Unnatural History, helped to save a beloved tract of land—a Girl Scout camp known as High Rock—from becoming the roadbed for a major highway being proposed by Robert Moses. The protection of this important parcel jump-started a modern conservation movement in the city and ...

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Overview

In 1976, the influential journalist and National Geographic editor John G. Mitchell published a book in the hopes of saving a precious part of Staten Island, where he and his family had lived for many years. The book, High Rock: A Natural and Unnatural History, helped to save a beloved tract of land—a Girl Scout camp known as High Rock—from becoming the roadbed for a major highway being proposed by Robert Moses. The protection of this important parcel jump-started a modern conservation movement in the city and led to the creation of the Staten Island Greenbelt—a congeries of natural landscapes adjacent to High Rock that now links more than 2,800 acres of preserved open space, more than three times the size of Central Park’s 843 acres.

Now High Rock is once again available—retitled and with significant new material edited and introduced by the renowned author and conservationist Charles E. Little. As a supplement to John Mitchell’s original text, this new edition features Charles Little’s historical update on High Rock and the Greenbelt today, including the addition of Fresh Kills Park and its 2,200 acres; a gallery of brilliant photographs by Dorothy Reilly, of the Staten Island Greenbelt Foundation; a discussion of the future of the Greenbelt by land-conservation leaders and city officials, moderated by Deborah Popper of the College of Staten Island and Princeton University; and a directory of resources and places by the historian Michael C. Twomey, of the College of Staten Island.

Center for American Places

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Editorial Reviews

Richard Flanagan

High Rock and the Greenbelt is the story of one of the more successful open-space preservation efforts in the nation, with a not-for-profit and government management structure that still works smoothly today. This new edition brings back into print John Mitchell’s original and compelling natural, social, and political history in which local citizens took on the mighty Robert Moses and won; it also features new material by editor Charles Little and others, whose contributions are perfect updates and complements to the original.

Elizabeth Barlow Rogers

Nature is not an abstraction. It is always about particular places. In 1976, John Mitchell, a former Staten Island resident and nature writer in the tradition of John Muir and Aldo Leopold, brought his subject alive by publishing in evocative detail his sensory impressions and meditations in the face of specific sights and sounds. Now his book is republished with excellent new material in a new edition, High Rock and the Greenbelt. It is a testament to the early conservation battle that served as the clarion call fostering all the subsequent preservation of New York City's remaining natural areas. The book serves a wonderful purpose and will be of wide general interest.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935195207
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press
  • Publication date: 9/22/2011
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

John G. Mitchell (1932–2007), a distinguished editor, journalist, and writer for Newsweek, Audubon, and National Geographic, was the author of eight books, among them The Hunt and Dispatches from the Deep Woods. Charles E. Little, who has held senior positions at several conservation institutions, is the author of fifteen books, among them The Encyclopedia of Environmental Studies and Greenways for America.

Center for American Places

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