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The Natural Resources of New York City

When European settlers came here in the 17th century, they had to consider the natural resources that were necessary to sustain life…..water, food, shelter.

First and foremost, people need a dependable source of fresh water, which in the early days was provided by clean streams, lakes and springs. People also need food, so they gathered edible plants and then planted and harvested. Livestock was brought over on boats from the Old Country to provide meat, milk, and eggs. Homes to shelter families from the elements were constructed from local stones and trees.

As the population grew, people's needs for survival remained the same, but obtaining these necessities evolved into more complex systems.

1. One of the greatest visionary engineering feats of modern times was the construction of the New York City water supply system. When did this magnificent design celebrate its initial success?


2. The water provided by the New York City water system is surface water, that is, it comes from rain and snow and ice melt. Pulled along by gravity, water flows down. It flows into creeks, streams, rivers and then into lakes and reservoirs.Where does the water that supplies New York City come from?


3. Many miles of tunnels and pipes carry the water from its sources to its destination, the homes and businesses, the decorative fountains and swimming pools of our city. How much water is supplied to this thirsty city and its surrounding areas daily?


4. As the first link in the food chain, plants are the basis of human diet. But plants need to grow in soil. What percentage of the land of New York has NOT been paved over, in other words - has exposed soil?


5. The first settlers had to know which of the local plants were edible. Today, some people still forage - gather wild plants - to eat and cook with. Which common plant, readily recognized and found EVERYWHERE, is picked and eaten?


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