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Mapping Mannahatta

This is wonderful:

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. The Mannahatta Project will help us to understand, down to the level of one city block, where in Manhattan streams once flowed or where American Chestnuts may have grown, where black bears once marked territories, and where the Lenape fished and hunted. Most history books dispense of the pre-European history of New York in only a few pages. However, with new methods in geographic analysis and the help of a remarkable 18th-century map, we will discover a new aspect of New York culture, the environmental foundation of the city.

Great pictures here

July 15, 2008 | History | Continue Reading | Comments { 1 }

King Of The Wild Frontier

A few people put out versions of “Davy Crockett” during the mid-50s obsession with the Disney television adaptations, but it was Bill Hayes’ version that went gold. Here’s Bill reading about the Creek Indian War from Davy’s autobiography.

MP3: Bill Hayes – The Creek Indian War (From Davy Crockett’s Autobiography)

“I must give an account of the part I took in the defense of the country. If it should make me be president, why, I can’t help it. Such things will sometimes happen and my pluck is never to seek or decline office.”

June 11, 2008 | History | Continue Reading | Comments { 0 }

The Explorers Club

Last year around this time, we got up before the sun rises on a Saturday to go to the Upper East Side of Manhattan to The Explorers Club. The Explorers Club is “an international multidisciplinary professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore. Since its inception in 1904, the Club has served as a meeting point and unifying force for explorers and scientists worldwide.” The Club is filled with stuffed polar bears, free coffee, ancient scientific and camping equipment, old flags, and loads of pictures from its’ 100+ year history. There was a film festival going on that day that featured a film about eels in Australia and a Jean Michel Costeau film about sharks. Pretty great stuff and a wonderful place to watch a movie with a bunch of sharply dressed 60 somethings. Anyway, there’s another one going on real soon and it looks like it might be better than last year. The film is the Conquest Of Everest:

The classic 1953 feature documentary of the British expedition to Mt. Everest, led by Sir John Hunt, which culminated in Sir Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay’s historic summit. Directed by George Lowe. 90 mins.

Introduced by Norman Dyhrenfurth, Honorary Club Fellow, who led the first successful American team to Mt. Everest, having spent three years on the organization and fundraising of this privately-mounted venture. Mr. Dyhrenfurth is coming from his home in Austria as the
Festival’s honored guest.

MP3: Colin Blunstone – I Can’t Live Without You

June 3, 2008 | History | Continue Reading | Comments { 0 }

The River is Wide

Not too long ago, we were sitting on the Metro North railroad, headed back to NYC, sore from hiking, reeking of campfire, tired as hell, and feeling just a little bit depressed knowing that around the next sunset would be a week filled with meetings and subways, instead of camping and waterways. Quite a shock to the system, it would be, if not for that massive and stunning Hudson River guiding the train all the way home, like a series of awnings bracing the fall from a roof.

Now that fragile river has been in the news a bit recently – subject of a study by a group called Riverkeeper, and an editorial in the Times – reminders of the impact that that city will have on anything it touches. It was also the subject of a recent American Masters on Pete Seeger, one of that river’s first defenders.

In 1966, Seeger started to build a 106 foot sloop called Clearwater (photo above), to sail down the Hudson, sing folk songs and heighten awareness for a river left for dead. That ship and Pete Seeger have since sailed 400,000 students up and down the river, fought polluters, and made a heck of a lot of progress.

As Pete’s daughter says in the film, “He made a promise to me, when I was about 12 years old. He said when you grow up, you’re going to be able to swim in the river. And I did.”

Catch the documentary if you can – the man was black listed for 17 years, hand built his home, and continues at age 87 to fight for his music, his river and the greater good.

MP3: Pete Seger – Turn, Turn, Turn

June 2, 2008 | History | Continue Reading | Comments { 1 }