New York Before the City – Thoughts after hearing Eric Sanderson’s TED talk

Eric Sanderson opens the talk with poetic descriptions of the island that is today New York and linked the descriptions to The Mannahatta Project. The Talk is split into three sections. With a degree in landscape ecology and a childhood interested in the environment, Eric has a strong career in Wildlife Conservation Society but often found himself lost when he is in New York. His reading led him to various pictures and paintings and a map. The lost map as he calls it, shows how the island was only once just Lower Manhattan and that anything pass the city hall is “nature”.With this map, Eric superimpose the modern map over this lost map and determine the ecological fundamentals which is able to give tons of information. Information that can determine where and how the old native Indians on the island lived. Eric found that the island has over 55 ecological communities with extraordinary landscape and diversity.

The second section of the talk shows the inhabitants of the island including all the animals and plants. Using a network mapping of what each inhabitant needs and how they connect with each other. Using all the connection Eric created a “Muir Web” after John Muir. By connecting the Muir Web and the lost map, Eric is able to map out and reveal what type of landscape would have exist.

The third section, Eric is able to computerize how the island would have looked compare to the geography of today.

The overall presentation shows how powerful GIS is in data collection. How GIS can be used in creative projects such as this. Overall Eric’s talk brings those who are using GIS and learning GIS pride and that itself is more than enough as those who are often in the background.

For the talk, please follow the link: http://www.ted.com/talks/eric_sanderson_pictures_new_york_before_the_city.html

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About t5huang

Masters in Environmental Science at UPenn Candidate
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