Welcome to Slow Nature Fast City, a beginner’s guide to noticing and exploring nature in the five boroughs of New York City.
Nature in the Concrete Jungle
If you ask most New Yorkers about finding nature in the city, they might make a joke about rats or pigeons. They may say that we have a few parks to run around, rivers to bike past, and crowded beaches to enjoy in the summer, but that’s about it. Nature is what you visit on vacation, not something you see in everyday life.
For many New Yorkers, nature isn’t there, doesn’t count, or isn’t for people like us.
But actually New York is the perfect place to connect with nature every day. Hundreds of species fly over our buildings and swim around our shores. We live and work in a vast urban forest of over 5 million trees. Meadows, waterfalls, gardens, beaches, and salt marshes are all within walking distance or a subway ride away.
Here’s an interview where I describe how I began to notice nature after moving to NYC. This film was generously created by Nitin Das from healingforest.org
How to Discover Nature in NYC
If you exhibit the signs of the nature deprived, here are some ways to tweak your daily habits to notice nature:
Begin with the Try This section. Here you’ll find self-assignments to help you notice the natural world, no matter where you are. Some popular ways to begin:
- Trade screen time for green time
- Try to look up more
- Listen for a non-human voice
- Install an imaginary nature webcam
- Notice how time in nature makes you feel
New York City has an abundance of landscapes, hidden green spaces, and off-the-beaten-path locales. In the Find Nature section, you’ll find inspiration to expand your own personal map of NYC. Ready to start exploring?
- Discover the Ravine in Prospect Park
- Walk through a labyrinth in Lower Manhattan
- Explore tidal pools in the Bronx
- Visit NYC landscapes for the heartbroken
- Enter a secret garden in the West Village