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The Hudson River is a 315-mile (507 km) river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. It rises at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains, flows past Albany, and finally forms the border between New York City and New Jersey at its mouth before emptying into Upper New York Bay. Its lower half is a tidal estuary which occupies the Hudson Fjord created during the most recent North American glaciation over the latter part of the Wisconsin Stage of the Last Glacial Maximum (26,000 to 13,300 years ago). Tidal waters influence the Hudson River's flow as far north as Troy.
The river is named after Henry Hudson, an Englishman sailing for the Dutch East India Company, who explored it in 1609. It had previously been observed by Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano sailing for King Francis I of France in 1524 as he became the first European known to have entered the Upper Bay, but he mistook it for an estuary. The river was named by Hudson's employers the North River (with the Delaware River called the South River) and formed the spine of the Dutch colony of New Netherland. Settlement of the colony clustered around the Hudson River and its strategic importance as the gateway to the American interior led to years of competition between the English and the Dutch over control of the river and colony.
In the Eighteenth Century, the river valley and its inhabitants were the subject and inspiration of Washington Irving, the first internationally acclaimed American author. In the Nineteenth Century The area inspired the Hudson River School of painting, an American pastoral style, as well as the idea of "wilderness" and "conservation."
Hudson River Names
The river was called Muh-he-kun-ne-tuk, the Great Mohegan, by the Iroquois, or as the Lenape Native Americans called it in Unami, Muhheakantuck.
The Hudson River was named the "North River" by the Dutch, who called the Delaware River the "South River." The name "North River" was used in the New York City area up until the early 1900s, with limited use continuing into the modern day. The term persists in radio communication among commercial shipping traffic, especially below Tappan Zee.
It was the English who originated the use of the name "Hudson"—because Hudson had found the river while exploring for the Dutch.
The official source of the Hudson River is Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondack Mountains. However, the waterway from the lake is known as Feldspar Brook and the Opalescent River, feeding into the Hudson River at Tahawus. The actual Hudson River begins several miles north of Tahawus at Henderson Lake. The Hudson River is joined at Waterford (north of Albany) by the Mohawk River, its major tributary, just south of which the Federal Dam separates the Upper Hudson River Valley from the Lower Hudson River Valley or simply the Hudson River Valley. The Hudson river then flows south, passing between the Catskill Mountains and the Taconic Mountains, widening significantly at the Tappan Zee, finally flowing between Manhattan Island and the New Jersey Palisades and into the Atlantic Ocean at New York Bay, an arm of the ocean, where it forms New York Harbor.
The lower Hudson River is actually a tidal estuary, with tidal influence extending as far as the Federal Dam at Troy. Strong tides make parts of New York Harbor difficult and dangerous to navigate. During the winter, ice floes drift south or north, depending upon the tides. The Mahican name of the river, Muh-he-kun-ne-tuk, means "the river that flows both ways." The Hudson River is often mistaken for one of the largest rivers in the United States, but it is an estuary throughout most of its length below Troy and thus only a small fraction of fresh water, about 15,000 cubic feet (425 m³) per second, is present. The mean fresh water discharge at the river's mouth in New York is approximately 21,400 cubic feet (606 m³) per second. The Hudson River and its tributaries, notably the Mohawk River, drain a large area. Parts of the Hudson River form coves, such as Weehawken Cove in Hoboken and Weehawken.
The Hudson is sometimes called, in geological terms, a "drowned" river. The rising sea levels after the retreat of the Wisconsin glaciation, the most recent ice age, have resulted in a marine incursion that drowned the coastal plain and brought salt water well above the mouth of the river. The deeply eroded old riverbed beyond the current shoreline, Hudson Canyon, is a rich fishing area. The former riverbed is clearly delineated beneath the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, extending to the edge of the continental shelf.
The Delaware and Hudson Canal ended at the Hudson River at Kingston, running southwest to the coal fields of northeastern Pennsylvania.
Notable landmarks on the Hudson River include West Point, Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, Bard College, the Culinary Institute of America, Marist College, the Thayer Hotel at West Point, Bannerman's Castle, Metro-North Railroad's Hudson River Line (formerly part of the New York Central Railroad system), the Tappan Zee, the New Jersey Palisades, Hudson River Islands State Park, Hudson Highlands State Park,Walkway over the Hudson River, Sing Sing Correctional Facility, New York Military Academy, Fort Tryon Park with The Cloisters, Liberty State Park, and Stevens Institute of Technology. Cities and towns on the New Jersey side include Tenafly, Fort Lee, Edgewater, West New York, Weehawken, Hoboken, and Jersey City. Cities in New York State include Troy, Albany, Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Glens Falls, Yonkers, Newburgh Beacon and New York City.
The natural beauty of the Hudson River Valley earned the Hudson River the nickname "America's Rhine", being compared to that of the famous 40 mile (65 km) stretch of Germany's Rhine River valley between the cities of Bingen and Koblenz. A similar 30-mile (48 km) stretch on the east bank of the Hudson River has been designated the Hudson River Historic District, a National Historic Landmark. The Hudson River was designated as one of the American Heritage Rivers in 1997.
The Hudson River Narrows
The Narrows, a tidal stream between the New York City boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn, connects the upper and lower sections of New York Bay. It has long been considered the maritime "gateway" to New York City and historically has been the most important entrance into the harbor.
The Narrows were most likely formed about 6,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age. Previously, Staten Island and Long Island were connected, preventing the Hudson River from terminating via The Narrows. At that time, the Hudson River emptied into the Atlantic Ocean through a more westerly course through parts of present day northern New Jersey, along the eastern side of the Watchung Mountains to Bound Brook, New Jersey and then on into the Atlantic Ocean via Raritan Bay. A build up of water in the Upper Bay eventually allowed the Hudson River to break through previous land mass that was connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn to form The Narrows as it exists today. This allowed the Hudson River to find a shorter route to the Atlantic Ocean via its present course between New Jersey and New York City (Waldman, 2000).
North River is an alternate name for the southernmost portion of the Hudson River , usually referring to all or part of the waterway located between Manhattan and Hudson County. The colonial name given by the Dutch to the entire river in the early seventeenth century, the term fell out of popular use for most of it some time in the early 1900s, but continues in use locally by mariners and others as well as on some nautical charts and maps. The term also lives on in the names of a variety of facilities such as the North River piers, North River Tunnels, and the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant, and has strong historical ties with New York Harbor.
Hudson River Haverstraw Bay
Haverstraw Bay, just north of the Tappan Zee (the widest part of the river), is located between Croton Point in the Southeast and the town of Haverstraw in the Northwest. Haverstraw Bay is a popular destination for recreational boaters and is home to many yacht clubs and marinas, including Croton Yacht Club, Croton Sailing School, Half Moon Bay Marina (Croton), Pennybridge Marina, Minisceongo Yacht Club, Stony Point Bay Marina, and Haverstraw Marina, and is traversed by NY Waterway's Haverstraw–Ossining Ferry.
The Hudson River is navigable for a great distance above mile 0 (at 40°42.1'N., 74°01.5'W.) off The Battery. The original Erie Canal, opened in 1825 to connect the Hudson River with Lake Erie, emptied into the Hudson River at the Albany Basin, just three miles (5 km) south of the Federal Dam in Troy (at mile 134). The canal enabled shipping between cities on the Great Lakes and Europe via the Atlantic Ocean. The New York State Canal System, the successor to the Erie Canal, runs into the Hudson River north of Troy and uses the Federal Dam as the Lock 1 and natural waterways whenever possible. The first railroad in New York, the Mohawk and Hudson River Railroad, opened in 1831 between Albany and Schenectady on the Mohawk River, enabling passengers to bypass the slowest part of the Erie Canal.
In northern Troy, the Champlain Canal split from the Erie Canal and continued north along the west side of the Hudson River to Thomson, where it crossed to the east side. At Fort Edward the canal left the Hudson River, heading northeast to Lake Champlain. A barge canal now splits from the Hudson River at that point, taking roughly the same route (also parallel to the Delaware and Hudson River Railway's Saratoga and Whitehall Railroad) to Lake Champlain at Whitehall. From Lake Champlain, boats can continue north into Canada to the Saint Lawrence Seaway.
The Hudson River Valley also proved attractive for railroads, once technology progressed to the point where it was feasible to construct the required bridges over tributaries. The Troy and Greenbush Railroad was chartered in 1845 and opened that same year, running a short distance on the east side between Troy and Greenbush (east of Albany). The Hudson River Railroad was chartered the next year as a continuation of the Troy and Greenbush south to New York City, and was completed in 1851. In 1866 the Hudson River Bridge opened over the river between Greenbush and Albany, enabling through traffic between the Hudson River Railroad and the New York Central Railroad west to Buffalo. When the Poughkeepsie Rail Bridge opened in 1879, it became the longest single span bridge in the world. On October 3, 2009, it re-opened as a pedestrian walkway over the Hudson River, as part of the Hudson River Quadricentennial Celebrations and connects over 25 miles of existing pedestrian trails.
The New York, West Shore and Buffalo Railway began at Weehawken Terminal and ran up the west shore of the Hudson River as a competitor to the merged New York Central and Hudson River Railroad. Construction was slow, and was finally completed in 1884; the New York Central purchased the line the next year.
The Hudson River is crossed at numerous points by bridges, tunnels, and ferries. The width of the Lower Hudson River required major feats of engineering to cross, the results today visible in the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the George Washington Bridge, and the Tappan Zee Bridge, as well as the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels and the PATH and Pennsylvania Railroad tubes. The George Washington Bridge (signed as I-95/US 1-9/US 46), connecting Fort Lee, New Jersey to the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan in New York City, is the world's busiest motor vehicle bridge. The Troy-Waterford Bridge at Waterford was the first bridge over the Hudson River, opened in 1809. The Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad was chartered in 1832 and opened in 1835, including the Green Island Bridge, the first bridge over the Hudson River south of the Federal Dam.
The Upper Hudson River Valley was also useful for railroads. Sections of the Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad, Troy and Boston Railroad and Albany Northern Railroad ran next to the Hudson between Troy and Mechanicville. North of Mechanicville the shore was bare until Glens Falls, where the short Glens Falls Railroad ran along the east shore. At Glens Falls the Hudson River turns west to Corinth before continuing north; at Corinth the Adirondack Railway begins to run along the Hudson River's west bank. The original Adirondack Railway opened by 1871, ending at North Creek along the river. In World War II an extension opened to Tahawus, the site of valuable iron and titanium mines. The extension continued along the Hudson River into Hamilton County, and then continued north where the Hudson River makes a turn to the west, crossing the Hudson River and running along the west shore of the Boreas River. South of Tahawus the route returned to the east shore of the Hudson River the rest of the way to its terminus.