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Monday, September 22, 2008

"Super City: New York" on the History Channel

On Monday, September 22, at 9:00pm (and repeated later in the week), the History Channel is showing a special called Super City: New York. It's been a little tough finding out information, but the blurb states (with some touch-and-go grammar) that the show:

"Peeling back layers of time shows Manhattan Island as it looked when it was discovered by Henry Hudson in 1609, then examines how people and nature have changed the landscape and speculates on the city's future."
We are intrigued.

UPDATE
Now that we've seen the show both in September and its recent December re-airing, we thought a little review was in order.

According to the show, to be a "Super City," a place must be "a marvel of engineering, infrastructure, and commerce." New York is certainly all those things, though the program gave pretty short shrift to the commercial aspects of the Big Apple.  (Perhaps they are saving that for the sequel.)

At two hours, the special seemed to drag a little--especially during the sections about skyscraper building, which didn't seem to offer anything new. But on the whole, this is an enjoyable foray into the city's natural history and its incredible infrastructure.

Some interesting tidbits we gleaned:

  • When most of the world's landmass was just one continent, dinosaurs walked from New Jersey to Africa, and the Jersey side of the Hudson is teeming with dinosaur footprints.

  • The palisades are the edge of a lake that formed when Africa ripped away from North America.

  • A beaver pond once stood in the area that is now Times Square. (This, and many other good facts, are courtesy of Eric Sanderson and the Mannahatta Project at the Wildlife Conservation Society.)

  • Rebuen Rose-Redwood, a geographer at Texas A&M and an expert on the 1811 survey that mapped Manhattan's grid, has found at least one original survey pin in Central Park. (We are going to search for the pin when the weather gets warmer and--if feasible--add it to one of our tours.)

    You can also read this article about Rose-Redwood and how his discovery of the pin was recreated for the TV cameras.

  • A 55-mile long pneumatic tube system that once delivered 200,000 pieces of mail per hour between the post office and downtown office buildings.

Many of these aspects of New York's history, including the city's geology, geography, and infrastracture, all appear in  our book, Inside the Apple, which is coming out in March. To pre-order a copy at Amazon, follow this link -- or go to our home page to find other online merchants.

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