11/26/2012 11:52 am ET

'After The Flood: Old New York Catches Up With The Anthropocene'

A time before the city — and the nagging potential for destruction — is almost harder to imagine than a time after it. There have been attempts to resurrect in words the meadows of Harlem or waterways of Canal Street, linking them to a future long after the city is gone (I’m thinking here of books like Eric Sanderson’s beautiful Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City). But Sandy was more convincing than any book. The surge revealed the potential for pre-history’s return — flooding those parts of the city made by man, the filled up places like Battery Park City or the pestilential swamp surrounding the Gowanus Canal.

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