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Archipelago New York


“Archipelago New York” is a three-part documentary series about a modern-day expedition by sailboat into the natural habitat of the world’s most famous city.


Before New York was New York the indigenous Lenape called the island Mannahatta, the land of the many hills, an estuary where salt- and fresh water create a unique habitat. Ever since the arrival of the European colonialists the nature here has been exploited, polluted and destroyed.   This is about to change. More and more people wake up to the call of nature. Climate crisis and rising sea level pose an existential threat to this island world.  50 years after the Clean Air and Water Act, activists and conservationists are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  Whales are back in New York City, Seals populate the shores of Staten Island, birds once thought to be locally extinct nest between the skyscrapers of Manhattan. New York emerges as one of the greenest cities in the country.


Episode 1:  An Island City


Whales a few miles outside the New York harbor, millions of oysters cleaning the water along the shore, raptors living on high-rise buildings and in Central Park.  New York just like Venice, Hong Kong or Istanbul is an island City threatened by sea level rise. In midst of the climate crisis, committed New Yorkers start to rethink their relationship with nature.


 Episode 2:  Wildlife in the City


When animals that have lived on this planet for more than 300 million years come to New York for breeding a natural spectacle occurs.   Hardly 20 miles from Times Square mythical birds nest on uninhibited islands.

Jamaica Bay is a perfect example for this.  Located adjacent to New York’s largest airport JFK, Jamaica Bay is part of a National Park and because of its size and the variety of species one of the most important nature preserves in New York State.

Episode 3: The Nature Returns

Just a stone throw away from Manhattan hundreds of egrets live on an abandoned island.  On another scientists try to catch images of coyotes with motion triggered cameras.  New York not only is a city for millions of people but also a fascinating natural habitat, spread out over dozens of islands just like Venice or Hong Kong.

Every time humans abandon a piece of land, nature returns and takes over - even if it was once the largest garbage dump in the United States.  After the Freshkills landfill was closed in 2001, it was encapsulated and the Freshkills Park was created, a huge grassland within the city and an example for other metropolises could do with former landfills.

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