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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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-03-31
- Reviewer: Staff
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)