21 May 2005

envisioning forgotten cities

The scariest (especially for San Franciscans, is Shadows from another place which maps the bombing of Baghdad onto San Francisco in real time.

A mapping of the first US attack on Baghdad, in March 2003, is superimposed upon San Francisco. The sound heard is from the same event. The longitude and latitude of each bombsite in SF is marked using a GPS device, the same technology used to target site in the Iraki town. These sites are mapped, chronicled and documented with photograph of what's currently at these locations.

In New York they're building a 1609 map of Manhattan Island.

Long before Frank Sinatra sang about making it there, the explorer Henry Hudson did. After three failed attempts to locate the Northwest Passage, in 1609, Hudson became the first European to find New York. And just like most tourists, he was impressed.

"The land is the finest for cultivation that I ever in my life set foot upon, and it also abounds in trees of every description," Hudson gushed in a journal entry.

Today, many agree that New York City abounds in at least one thing – development – thus its moniker, the Concrete Jungle. So, what happened to its wildlife between 1609 and 2005? That's a story arc that landscape ecologist Eric Sanderson, of the Wildlife Conservation Society at New York's Bronx Zoo, is tracing in detail in the Mannahatta Project, a 1609 recreation of Manhattan's landscape. "It's amazing what kinds of things were here," Sanderson says. "Wolves, cougars, elk, beavers. You know, beavers are on the Manhattan city seal. Well, they were here in abundance before."

And lastly, at Byzantium 1200 they're building a website that images the city at the last moment of its glory, before the Fourth Crusade decided destroying a Christian city was what crusades were all about, an event some Orthodox remember with only a little less bitterness than the Muslims recall the Crusades in Palestine.

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