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The Changing Face of Manhattan: From Forested Hills to City Hall Park

Author(s): Daniel Eichinger

Year: 2014

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When considering Manhattan’s landscape, one envisions a level and gridded metropolis. This was not the face that Manhattan presented to Henry Hudson in 1609 or even to John McComb Jr. when the construction of his new City Hall began in 1803. Where skyscrapers now form the upper canopy and lesser buildings comprise the urban underbrush, the landscape consisted of teeming forests, marshes, streams, and many hills and gullies. In fact, the island was so hilly, it was named ‘Mannahatta’ or The Land of Many Hills by its Lenape inhabitants. In less than 200 years, the ‘Mannahatta’ of 1803 would little resemble that of 1609. Lower Manhattan became gridded streets and housing, the remaining island was comprised of small villages and farms. By 1811, a plan was put into place to expand the city grid across the island, beginning its evolution into modern Manhattan. What human-wreaked changes would change ‘Mannahatta’ into Manhattan?

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The Changing Face of Manhattan: From Forested Hills to City Hall Park. Daniel Eichinger. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437336)

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-77,01

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America