This essay collection draws on natural history, urban ecology, and environmental politics to consider New York City’s complex relationship to nature.
How can a hawk nesting above Fifth Avenue become a citywide phenomenon? Why does a sudden butterfly migration at Coney Island energize the community? What makes the presence of a community garden or an empty lot ripple so differently through the surrounding neighborhood? Is the city an oasis or a desert for biodiversity? Does nature even matter to New Yorkers, who choose to live in a concrete jungle?
Still the Same Hawk examines these questions with a rich mix of creative nonfiction that ranges from analytical to anecdotal and humorous. John Waldman’s sharp, well-crafted introduction presenting dualism as the defining quality of urban nature is followed by compelling contributions from Besty McCully, Christopher Meier, Tony Hiss, Kelly McMasters, Dara Ross, William Kornblum, Phillip Lopate, David Rosane, Robert Sullivan, Anne Matthews, Devin Zuber, and Frederick Buell. Together these pieces capture a wide range of viewpoints, including the myriad and shifting ways New Yorkers experience and consider the outdoors, the historical role of nature in shaping New York’s development, what natural attributes contribute to New York’s regional identity, the many environmental tradeoffs made by urbanization, and even nature’s dark side where “urban legends” flourish.