A friend of mine sent me a link to this picture of Manhattan half urban/half made over into its natural state.
The article references the Mannahata Project, which is also the source of the photo. According to the website: “The aim of the Mannahatta Project is to reconstruct the ecology of Manhattan when Henry Hudson first sailed by in 1609 and compare it to what we know of the island today.”
There’s a book coming out in May called Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City and an exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. The Mannahatta website talks about some neat stuff, like an interactive map that allows you to overlay the contemporary street grid on the 1609 landscape.
I stumbled on the Mannahatta site at some point during my research for The Painting and the City, but at the time, the site didn’t have much on it and I forgot about it.
In my novel, there are many references to Manhattan Island’s past topography, streams, hills, the Collect Pond. The sculptor-main character becomes fixated on the idea of Manhattan Green and creates a diorama combining an urban downtown that ends at the Dutch wall that is now Wall Street and a green and natural landscape above the wall. I also have a situation in which art can be used to affect what it depicts, if the necessary complex magical elements are used. So for the cover art, I was interested in showing the city being broken, with a landscape emerging in places.
The preliminary front cover is up on the PS website, and this is what the artist came up with for the back panel, showing the city as a puzzle, with pieces scattered or missing, parts of the Void showing, plus rocks, trees, water, etc.