About the City Atlas

Working with partner, Artist As Citizen, our vision is to create an Atlas that shows the past environmental transformations of New York City’s history, with the ultimate intent of projecting its future, reminding New Yorkers that they all play a role in what the city of tomorrow looks like based on decisions, lifestyles and participation. Essentially, the idea is this: by getting people more comfortable with thinking about the past and seeing all of the environmental challenges we have successfully surpassed, we (perhaps) open up the capacity for critical thinking and understanding that today’s decisions build tomorrow’s city. What do we really want this city to look like? And how can we take climate change and sustainability into account when we envision the year 2080 and beyond in NYC?

Pivotal to the Atlas project is the harnessing of the vast pool of emerging talent from the creative programs at schools across New York City. From programs at our home at CUNY, to ITP at NYU, to ParsonsPratt, and SVA, we are inviting faculty to engage their students to build the atlas–and their portfolios–based on the latest science and developments of sustainability in New York City.

The initial content piece created by the Atlas team will consist of community interviews that ask people to think about their own hopes, fears, and thoughts for New York City’s future. While we have a great respect–and reliance on–existing climate change projection educational materials, we believe that people must be inserted into these equations. So, we figured we should start by speaking with them directly. Our community journalism interns will be hitting the streets and engaging their own networks to discuss these issues and get a variety of perspectives. One intern, for example, is a musician, a Queens native, currently living in New Jersey, who works at a law firm and has a family member who works for the EPA. The rich diversity of the responses he can tap into are valuable for the Atlasand the entire city itself. For future content, students at ITP–and elsewhere–are eager to participate in the Atlas Lab component of the project which will offer micro-grants and stipends for students who are designing physical projects in the city that contribute to advancing sustainability on the ground.

From historians to industrial designers, climatologists to artists, ecologists to new media pioneers, our guiding experts are helping us shape the Atlas, which we hope, will help shape New York City in some way.

Again, we are grateful to the Rockefeller Foundation for the award that will facilitate the development of this exciting initiative and we look forward to serving our city and enhancing its innovation with this project. For a full list of other awardees, a great number of whom are also looking to pair sustainability with creativity, see here.

CISC is grateful to the Rockefeller Foundation for its New York City Cultural Innovation Fund Award. We have been actively working to amass our team of individuals to help us develop the City Atlas, for which we received this grant.

Recent Posts on the City Atlas web page include:

  • Kate Troll, “The Great Unconformity: Reflections on Hope in an Imperiled World” Come join us October 12th to hear Alaskan Kate Troll share her stories and insights in dealing with being green in a bright red state. Most importantly Kate’s talk will focus on climate change and her “10 Points of Hope for Progress on Climate Change.” In her new book, The Great Unconformity: Reflections on Hope in ...
  • Yale Alumni Public Health Initiative Presents: Health and Climate Change Interested in environmental health and climate change? In this seminar featuring Institute of Sustainable Cities Fellow and City Atlas Co-Founder Richard Reiss we will explore the interplay of global health and the environment, in particular the significant impact of climate change on health outcomes. Further, we will take on questions of what can and should be ...
  • Solar Power Comes to Brooklyn Home solar power has been booming across the US. But here in New York City, how would one go about going solar? Solarize Brooklyn just guided 23 homes through the process. Read more about Solarize Brooklyn on the City Atlas web page.
  • Citizenship in the 21st Century If a part of the body could think, it would never think it could survive at the cost of the whole. If we accept the extreme interconnectedness of different systems and processes on the Earth, this same concept can be applied on a societal level. Read more about this concept here, in a City Atlas article detailing the ...
  • How Would You Design the Future of NYC? In the third of City Atlas’ TEDxCity2.0 videos, from an event hosted by City Atlas and the sus­tain­able cof­fee bar COFFEED, Eric Sander­son intro­duces Man­na­hatta 2409. Dr. Sander­son is a Senior Con­ser­va­tion Ecol­o­gist at the Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Soci­ety, and the cre­ator of the inter­ac­tive project Welikia​.org about the nat­ural his­tory of New York City (includ­ing the land­scape of Man­hat­tan, orig­i­nally called Man­na­hatta). Here he ...


  1. […] Future Sea Level in Lower Manhattan, hosted by the New York Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby and The City Atlas, scheduled for Saturday May […]


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