A groundbreaking new book, Still the Same Hawk: Reflections on Nature and New York brings into conversation diverse and intriguing perspectives on the relationship between nature and America’s most prominent city. The volume’s title derives from a telling observation in Robert Sullivan’s contribution that considers how a hawk in the city is perceived so much differently from a hawk in the countryside.
Yet it’s still the same hawk.
How can a hawk nesting above Fifth Avenue become a citywide phenomenon? Or a sudden butterfly migration at Coney Island energize the community? Why does the presence of a community garden or an empty lot ripple so differently through the surrounding neighborhood? Is the city an oasis or a desert for biodiversity? Why does nature even matter to New Yorkers, who choose to live in the concrete jungle?
Still the Same Hawk examines these questions with a rich mix of creative nonfiction that ranges from analytical to anecdotal and humorous. John Waldman’s sharp, well-crafted introduction presenting dualism as the defining quality of urban nature is followed by compelling contributions from Besty McCully, Christopher Meier, Tony Hiss, Kelly McMasters, Dara Ross, William Kornblum, Phillip Lopate, David Rosane, Robert Sullivan, Anne Matthews, Devin Zuber, and Frederick Buell. Together these pieces capture a wide range of viewpoints, including the myriad and shifting ways New Yorkers experience and consider the outdoors, the historical role
of nature in shaping New York’s development, what natural attributes contribute to New York’s regional identity, the many environmental tradeoffs made by urbanization, and even nature’s dark side where “urban legends” flourish.
Still the Same Hawk intermingles elements of natural history, urban ecology, and environmental politics, providing fresh insights into nature and the urban environment on one of the world’s great stages for the clash of these seemingly disparate realms—New York City.