Business District Today

Contemporary Geology and Hydrology

Known today for its buildings and grid of streets, the landscape in this neighborhood has a much different character today. The carpet of habitat that once covered the neighborhood has now turned into patches isolated from one another in a sea of developed land. Agriculture practices, housing, roads, railroads, the rerouting of the Mohawk River and the construction of the Erie Canal caused great changes in the area's hydrology as well, resulting in pollution, erosion, reduced groundwater recharge, soil impermeability, heat island effect and inadequate wastewater and storm water management practices.

Contemporary Flora

Destroyed by deforestation, development, landscaping practices and pollution, most of the area's native vegetation has been replaced by non-native and invasive species such as Japanese Knotweed, Burning Bush and Norway Maple. Although residential gardens in this neighborhood support biodiversity, floristic conditions as a whole are not conducive to a healthy ecology because most of the species are not native and are therefore less successful at supporting the insect populations on which most wildlife rely on to survive. The majority of the neighborhood's street trees are introduced species and the remnant patches of native vegetation that exist provide little core habitat, something many animal species and the ecosystem as a whole need to flourish. The Business District consists mostly of commercial properties with little vegetated open space. Ellen Hanna Park, however, provides one-half acre of habitat, albeit quite limited. Plant boxes with locust, crabapple, Burning Bush, yew, spirea, Mugo Pine, Mulberry, juniper, Barberry, Hosta and Day Lily fill the park.

Contemporary Fauna

The wildlife species in this neighborhood now comprises a much smaller list and mostly include ones common to urban areas such as crows, starlings, house sparrows, squirrels and pigeons. Unfortunately, the neighborhood's fragmented landscape provides patches of habitat too small to support many species since animals require particular ranges and the roads, fences and Erie Canal prevent their movement. Of those habitat patches that remain here, few are suitable for animals' survival. The altered hydrology in the neighborhood has influenced the creation of poor soils, which results in vegetation inadequate for the nutritional, shelter, resting and nesting requirements of most species of wildlife that used to occupy the neighborhood. The low incidence of other features typical of healthy habitats, such as rock piles and snags, is another contributing factor. Environmental degradation due to noise, light and air pollution has also inhibited wildlife's capacity for living and reproducing here. Noise pollution interferes with an animal's ability to locate resources, find mates, establish territories and escape predators. Environmental light pollution causes changes in reproduction, communication and foraging behavior by way of disorientation and attraction to or repulsion by glare and lighted objects. Air toxins lead to diseases, abnormal functioning of organs and death in wildlife. Animals have four options when their habitat is disjointed, damaged or destroyed: (1) thrive in the human-dominated conditions, (2) live within several habitable areas at once, (3) travel to other habitat patches in order to take advantage of the resources they provide or (4) perish. Unfortunately for this neighborhood, since 1491 the last option has been a common one.