Saturday, May 11, 2013

Manhattan's Expanding Boundaries

As Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan writes at the blog Gizmodo, "you don't get to eight million inhabitants without making a few landfills."  Check out these maps to see how Manhattan has expanded over the last 250 years.  Here is a taste of Campbell-Dollaghan's introduction to the maps:

Ellis Island? Built on landfill, in part. Rikers too. FDR Drive, the World Financial Center, and Battery Park City: yep, they’re all sitting on piles of dirt and trash. In fact, it’s remarkable the East River still exists—a plan from 1911 proposed infilling the river (and parts of the harbor) to reclaim fifty square miles of land.

Manhattan's topography—real and artificial—reentered public consciousness late last year, after Hurricane Sandy submerged parts of Lower Manhattan. Some engineers think it’s time to expand the shoreline even further to create “soft edges” to absorb the impact of the storm surge—a strange return to the city’s earliest incarnation as a marshland. As politicians and advocates are suddenly refocusing on the waterfront, the map is liable to change yet again—only this time, it'll be to repair and fortify the city against coming storms.