Friday, 29 January 2010

Pre-city ecology

There's a fascinating talk by Eric Sanderson on TED about the pre-city ecology of Manhattan. Sanderson and his team have recreated the ecology of hills, rivers, wildlife - accurate down to the block - from 400 years ago, when Times Square was a wetland and Hudson sailed into New York harbour for the first time.

In recent years I have developed a similar interest in my city, Jo'burg. It would have looked looked like Suikerbosrand and Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve do now - grasses, shrubs, wildlife... Personally, I'd prefer it the way it was 150 years ago - super for trail running and orienteering. Hahaha.

This image below is of the cave, in Kensington (about 1km from my home), where the Foster gang hid out - and subsequently shot themselves. Fascinating story, which can be read on Famous South African Crimes and This photo (from  was taken in 1914 and it shows police guarding the entrance to the cave - the gang are inside. I live on one of those open fields! If I can get into the area I'll try to take a photo from the same perspective sometime this weekend on a run (if it stops raining!). And by 1914 this land had already been substantially manipulated.


gene said...

very cool, and i will check out that story about Manhattan. Boston, too, was build on a swamp/marsh/wetland, and then outward toward the sea. there is a line of bricks in one of the touristy areas (Fanieul Hall/Quincy Market) where the sea wall was. it is now about .75k further out. amazing, considering the technology of the times. thanks again!!!

adventurelisa said...

I just looked it up on Wiki. Seems there used to be three hills. They pulled down two and half of the other to landfill to make more land for the growing city. Quite amazing Gene.