About Betsy McCully

portrait of Betsy McCully

Thank you for visiting my website! As a nature writer and historian, I’m motivated by my desire to provide my readers with a deep historical perspective on how an urban place has evolved and how it’s been altered by humans. I believe that knowledge of the powerful natural forces and processes that have shaped and continue to shape an urban region like New York helps us to appreciate the magnitude of our human impact on nature.

Whether we are urban, suburban, or rural dwellers in the land, we are part of the larger biological community. Put simply: we share our living space with other living things.

City at the Water's Edge cover image

My first book, City at the Water’s Edge: A Natural History of New York (Rutgers/Rivergate Press, 2007), tells the story of the land that lies beneath the concrete veneer of one of the largest metropolises in the world. The timeline extends back half a billion years in geological history and forward to a future of rising seas. The human impact on the land, from the arrival of the first peoples 12,000 years ago to the densely settled city of today, is recounted in detail.

At the Glacier's Edge cover image

My most recent book, At the Glacier’s Edge: A Natural History of Long Island from the Narrows to Montauk Point (Rutgers University Press, 2024), grew out of thirty-plus years of exploring the natural environs of my home island. The narrative combines science writing, environmental history and personal accounts of Long Island’s natural world, with chapters on its ice age origins and its natural habitats.

[If you wish to order my books or learn more about them, click here, which takes you to the website of Rutgers University Press.]

Besides my two books, I’ve published essays, stories, and articles, and given many talks on the nature and natural history of the New York region.

I have a Ph.D. in American Literature from George Washington University (1989) and am retired from my position as a professor of English at Kingsborough College of the City University of New York. During my tenure, I co-founded the award-winning Kingsborough Eco-Festival.

Betsy McCully

Updated February 2024

c. Betsy McCully 2018-2024