Visionmaker NYC (version 1.0) is a vision-making application to improve the nature of New York City.

Developed by the Wildlife Conservation Society (Eric W. Sanderson, lead scientist; Kim Fisher, lead developer), Visionmaker NYC allows the public to develop and share climate-resilient and sustainable designs for Manhattan based on rapid model estimates of the water cycle, carbon cycle, biodiversity and population. Users can vary the ecosystems, lifestyles, and climate of the city in an effort to find and publish sustainable and resilient visions of the city of the future.

Version 1.0 focuses on New York City, and follows on from the Mannahatta Project and Welikia Project and the best-selling book by Eric W. Sanderson, Mannahatta: The Natural History of New York City (2009). The modern aspects of the project are based in part on investigations described in Sanderson’s Terra Nova: The New World After Oil, Cars, and Suburbs (2013).

Future versions will add other metrics, such as economics, health, and social justice, and cover other cities and localities where people live and care about their environment. To contact the Visionmaker NYC team, please write to m2409@themannahattaproject.org.


Because nature has been assumed and largely ignored by past generations, New York City, like most contemporary cities, has inherited a series of interconnected problems of ecological performance including stormwater management; climate change adaptation and mitigation; brownfield remediation; air, water, noise, and soil pollution; invasive species and disease; and habitat deterioration and destruction. These ecological problems limit the quality of life in the city not only for people, but for the millions of other organisms which once made this unique and fantastic part of nature home. Unaddressed, these problems may have catastrophic consequences, which is why millions of dollars per year are currently being spent to address them by public and private entities, especially in the wake of events like Hurricane Sandy in 2011. While daunting, these environmental challenges are also a lens through which New Yorkers may come to recognize and embrace the special qualities of our place in nature’s tapestry, thus opening new avenues for design, development, art, science, economy and sustainability. Visionmaker NYC is one way to love the city more.


Visionmaker NYC is the second version of our emerging software platform that started with Mannahatta 2409, focusing on Manhattan. Mannahatta : Mannahatta is the original Lenape Native American name for the island; it meant land of many hills. From Mannahatta we derive Manhattan. It is easy to understand that the former landscape of Manhattan clothed in forests, wetlands, and streams, was a wild place where carbon cycled through, water flowed, and habitat was provided for a diverse and robust abundance of living species, including for people like the Lenape. The rich environment of Mannahatta helped make Manhattan possible. Mannahatta remains as a baseline against which to compare current and future environmental performance.

2409 : While Mannahatta in 1609 reflects one vision of the city, Manhattan in 2009-2010 reflects quite another. Mannahatta 2409 and Visionmaker NYC are about engaging long-term thinking and change for the city. In that quest “2409” is not meant as a literal date, but as a figurative point in the distant future, far enough away to free our imaginations of short-term worries and constraints, but near enough to be relevant to the way we live in the city today.

*.org : The Internet provides new ways for people to collaborate and share information and ideas about the future. Whereas most environmental planning is the province of experts, we seek to use the power of the Internet to open up environmental planning and future design to the broad public, while also serving the needs of city managers, architects and developers, and students and teachers.

Visionmaker NYC is part of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Cities and Wildlife initiative, which examines the relationships between cities and wildlife, building on our work in New York City and expanding into other cities.

For more information on Visionmaker NYC, watch the TEDx talk with Eric Sanderson below.


Users should be aware that the calculated model assessments provided by Visionmaker NYC are only estimates and should not be used for site-based planning or investments without further detailed studies. Estimates provided here are intended primarily for relative and comparative assessments in educational and cultural contexts. Please refer to the Terms of Use. To learn more about the methods used to make each estimate, click on the small (i) icons throughout the site to access to equations, parameters, and source documentation. Scientific validation of the model estimates is on-going. If you have questions or suggestions regarding methodological approaches or parameterization, please contact us at m2409@themannahattaproject.org.


Both the Welikia (1609) and the New York City (2014) maps you see on Visionmaker NYC are products of multiple combined datasets. The Welikia (1609) map was synthesized from historical studies and contemporary ecological modelling conducted as part of the Mannahatta Project (Sanderson 2009). The New York City (2014) map was developed by combining various datasets from NYC Open Data , Bytes of the Big Apple , and other public domain data sources. Manhattan is constantly changing; these landcover maps represent slices in time and may contain errors. If you notice a problem on the landcover maps, please contact us at m2409@themannahattaproject.org.


Lead scientist: Eric W. Sanderson, Senior Conservation Ecologist, Wildlife Conservation Society
Lead developer: Kim Fisher, Spatial Analyst and Developer, Wildlife Conservation Society
Developers: Dustin Sampson of SparkGeo, Paul Angelino
User experience developers: Mario Giampieri, Chris Miles, Phillip Pond (Human Nature Projects)
Data wranglers: Mario Giampieri, Christopher Spagnoli, Christopher Giamarino, Lily Wendle, Chris Starkey
Educational coordinators: David Johnston, Anine Booth
Educational consultant: Crystal 'Nim' Lee
Legal Advisor: Jonathan Berschadsky, Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto
Advisory Committee: Bill Browning and Chris Garvin, Terrapin Bright Green; Alexandros Washburn, Stevens Institute of Technology; Thaddeus Pawlowski, City of New York Department of City Planning; and Phillip Pond, Human Nature Projects

Thanks also to: GoogleServe volunteers, John Robinson, Joshua Ginsberg, Cristian Samper, John Calvelli, Liam McCarthy, Carolyn Gray, Eliza Berry, Miriam Widmann, Kizzy M. Charles-Guzman, Alfred DeGemmis, Adam Freed, Kate Howe, Sara Marinello, Kristin Misner, Tom Paino, Gina Santucci, Lacy Shelby, Louise Woehrle, David Bragdon, Cynthia Barton, Sandy Hornick, Ornektekin Ozgem, Bram Gunther, John McLaughlin, Linda Cox, Jeff Ferzoco, Bob Fox, Peter Groffman, Frank Hebbert, Carter Ingram, Natalie Jeremijenko, Tom Jost, Amanda Kaminsky, Noemie Lafaurie-Debaunay, James Lima, Don Lisowy, Jason Loiselle, Alex Marshall, Mary Miss, Bill Solecki, Eddie Torres, Charlie Vörösmarty, Paul Winters, Dan Wood, Darryl Young, Belen Aranda-Alvarado, Anandi A. Premlall, Richard Reiss, Pim Savetmalanond, Kimberly Schwab, Zara Serabian-Arthur, Jeff Sterrenberg, Oistein Thorsen, Milagros Vega, Fiona Thwaites, Paula Segal, Heidi Neilson, Aaron Reiss, Kathryn Thompson, Franco Montalto, Catie Ryan, Siobhan Watson, Namita Kallianpurkar, and Tim McGee.

Financial Support: Mannahatta2409.org (version 1.0) has been generously supported by the Rockefeller Foundation's New York City Cultural Innovation Fund, the Biomimcry 3.8 Institute with support from the Summit Foundation and the Bay & Paul Foundation. In-kind support has been provided by Esri through an arrangement with The Nature Conservancy. We continue to seek support to improve and extend the website. If you would like to support the project, please contact us at m2409@themannahattaproject.org.


Visit: www.wcs.org; facebook.com/TheWCS; youtube.com/user/WCSMedia; follow: @theWCS

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