Mannahatta: First Encounter

Essential Question: What Did Manhattan Look Like When the Henry Hudson arrived in 1609?

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Mannahatta: Land of Many Hills - Map

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Eye Witness Accounts - Jacob Steendam, Daniel Denton and Adriean Van Der Donck

"But it was the miraculous size and quantity and variety of things--the sheer prodigality of life--that left the most lasting impression.

Travelers spoke of vast meadows of grass "as high as a man’s middle" and forests with towering stands of walnut, cedar, chestnut, maple, and oak.

Orchards bore apples of incomparable sweetness and "pears larger than a fist."

Every spring the hills and fields were dyed red with ripening strawberries, and so many birds filled the woods "that men can scarcely go through them for the whistling, the noise, and the chattering."

Boats crossing the bay were escorted by schools of playful whales, seals, and porpoises.

Twelve-inch oysters and six-foot lobsters crowded offshore waters, and so many fish thrived in streams and ponds that they could be taken by hand.

Woods and tidal marshlands teemed with bears, wolves, foxes, raccoon, otters, beavers, quail, partridge, forty-pound wild turkeys, doves "so numerous that the light can hardly be discerned where they fly," and countless deer "feeding, or gamboling or resting in the shades in full view."

Wild swans were so plentiful "that the bays and shores where they resort appear as if they were dressed in white drapery."

Blackbirds roosted together in such numbers that one hunter killed 170 with a single shot; another bagged eleven sixteen-pound gray geese in the same way.

"There are some persons who imagine that the animals of the country will be destroyed in time," mused Van der Donck, "but this is an unnecessary anxiety."

Source - Gotham: The History of New York City to 1898 by Edwin G. Burrows & Mike Wallace, p 3, First Impressions.

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The 1735 portrait of Lenape Chief Tishcohan by Gustavus Hesselius.Courtesy of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania Collection, Atwater Kent Museum.See Welikia Project website.

The Mannahatta Project

Presentation on the Mannahatta Project by Eric Sanderson at TED2009

See the Welikia Project website

Click on this Interactive Map.

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