The NYU Native Woodland Garden in Schwartz Plaza
On September 12, 1609, Henry Hudson first laid eyes on the island of Mannahatta, named so by the native Lenni Lenape people. Ever since, Manhattan has been steadily developed into one of the world’s most altered landscapes. Few vestiges remain of the forests, grasslands, wetlands, and streams that once combined to form a uniquely varied ecosystem on the island. Coinciding with the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Hudson, Wildlife Conservation ecologist Dr. Eric Sanderson has digitally established The “Mannahatta Project,” an educational program which aims to reconstruct what is known about the ecology of Manhattan as it existed before European settlement.
The NYU Native Woodland Garden in Schwartz Plaza, on the east face of NYU’s Bobst Library, was the first planting to be done in association with the Mannahatta Project. The garden features a variety of plant species identified by Dr. Sanderson as likely to have been present on the day Henry Hudson first sailed by the island. Native trees, shrubs, and perennials were planted among the existing non-native trees to mimic the natural process of ecological species succession. As stated by the garden designer Darrel Morrison in his design proposal, the design brings a “microcosmic and stylized version of the botanic diversity and aesthetic character of a native New York woodland into a highly urban environment.”