The boundaries between wildness and us are in our heads.
Did You Know?
The potential for contact with more common wild animals is increasing. In a number of urban regions, humans and wild critters are coming into contact in ways that have been unfamiliar to Americans for at least a century. For one, the U.S. deer population is the highest it has been in a hundred years.—Richard Louv
Surprising Facts About Nature in the City
- New York City is the greenest city in America! NYC has more open space than any other city in the US: 52,938 acres of park/open space out of 197,696 total acres (26.8%), including 1,700 parks and playgrounds. Just the parks total 29,000 acres.
- There are more than 750 different native species of animals and plants throughout the 5 boroughs, including the endangered peregrine falcon, the sharp-shinned hawk, wild turkeys, opossums, and white-tailed deer.
Approximately 1,450 native species of plants once occurred in the city, but according to a 2008 report, 600 of them are lost and another 500 are vulnerable.
- New York City has 578 miles of waterfront. Estuaries and tidal straits of every stripe run through or near New York City, from the Hudson to East River, Harlem River, Jamaica Bay, Long Island Sound, Newark Bay, and Kill van Kull. All told, 35% of the annexed area of New York City is water, and there is also the open Atlantic Ocean off our beaches.
- There are now 700 miles of bike lanes in New York City.
- Close to one-third of Brooklyn's 71 square miles is classified as open space.
- Brooklyn's level of biodiversity rivals that of many rural areas.
- Of all 5 boroughs, Brooklyn has the lowest proportion of land devoted to parks, the second-highest number of residents per acre of parkland, and the third-highest tree canopy coverage. (It is also known as the "Borough of Trees.") It is home to half the City’s community gardeners, 70% percent of whom are in low-income neighborhoods. (source: Brooklyn Community Foundation/Green Communities Fund)
- If everywhere in the U.S. were as densely populated as Brooklyn, we'd all fit into New Hampshire! That would leave a lot of wilderness to explore.
- New York City spreads over 301 square miles and includes over 8.2 million people. There are over 20 nations with less area and about 100 countries with fewer people.
- Remnants of virgin forests still stand in the Bronx and Queens, including a 425- to 450-year-old tulip tree which is the oldest living thing in NYC. (NY Times)
- In the Bronx's Pelham Bay Park, rare birds and vegetation flourish among trees that have been growing since the 1700s. (NY Times)
- The Greenbelt Native Plant Center on Staten Island , a 13-acre complex operated by NYC Parks & Recreations Dept., is the only municipal native plant nursery in the country.