Up the River With Henry Hudson

June 12, 2009 at 5:38 pm 1 comment

On a mission to find the Northwest Passage, Captain Henry Hudson set sail in 1609 from Amsterdam with a small crew in a small triple-masted vessel, the Half Moon (Halve Maen in Dutch). He didn’t find the passage, but he did discover the river that now bears his name plus a fine harbor, bountiful lands and friendly natives — a discovery that led to Nieuw Amsterdam, now known as New York. Saturday, as historic biplanes flew overhead, a full-scale replica of the original Dutch ship sailed past the Statue of Liberty and into the mighty Hudson River leading a flotilla of historic vessels northward, recreating Hudson’s historic journey towards present-day Albany. Sailing alongside the Half Moon were the Hudson River sloop Clearwater, the windjammer Mystic Whaler; the replica Onrust, the sloop Woody Guthrie and many more historic vessels, followed by ships from the Circle Line, the Coast Guard, the New York Naval Militia and New York Water Taxi. As the majestic ships sailed up the Hudson, they were joined by vessels from local boating and yacht clubs as waterfront communities celebrated with picnics, festivals, cannon fire and historic recreations. Quadricentennial Executive Nicole Sama, who has been working intensely on this week’s River Day events, told the Brooklyn Eagle that besides the flagships, large vessels and 300 registered boats, “every yacht club and marina along the river is sending out their memberships.” Celebrations All Year This weeklong “relay flotilla” and scores of related events are all part of a celebration to mark the dual 400th anniversaries of the voyages of Captain Hudson and Frenchman Samuel de Champlain, the first European to gaze upon the waters of Lake Champlain. To celebrate these quadricentennials, New York State, the Netherlands and local communities have planned a yearlong series of events. More than 1,000 events have been listed on the ExploreNY400.com web site. Some of these include the Governors Island Dutch Festival (Sept. 13), Walkway-Over-the-Hudson Grand Opening in Poughkeepsie (Oct. 3), Festival of Nations at Lake Champlain and many more. Champlain Quadricentennial Director Tara Sullivan has spent much of her time orchestrating hundreds of programs, projects and events, said Sama. Thousands of flags marking the anniversary will be distributed to schoolchildren across New York state. The Port Authority will install 400th anniversary banners throughout its airports. In addition, the MTA has designated all Hudson River train stations and ferries as Quadricentennial stops and boats. Macy’s has commissioned the Hudson River-inspired score for the New York Pops orchestra to be played at this year’s Quadricentennial Fourth of July event. And members of the Dutch Royal family will visit for a variety of events in September in New York City, the Hudson Valley and Albany. Rolling on a River “The ultimate goal is to bring people down to the Hudson and foster appreciation for the importance of the river,” said Stuart F. Gruskin, executive deputy commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). In light of the recent economic troubles, the DEC has been working with waterfront communities in developing small projects — like installing a riverside bench, for example — to celebrate the 400th anniversary, he said. From the deck of a ship in the flotilla, Gruskin pointed out celebrations taking place along the waterfront — a festival at Dobbs Ferry, a celebration in Hastings. “A festival, bands — that’s exactly the kind of thing we were hoping for,” he said. “To think that the river touches so many communities — it’s a great way to celebrate. River Day brings people down, shows people the ships — who knows what seeds get planted? “And it only happens one time every 400 years.”

By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle


Entry filed under: Get Wet, Maritime, Region. Tags: , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Mal  |  June 24, 2009 at 5:31 am

    I’m acting as the NYC tour guide later this week with our of town friends. Going to check out the Circle Line now that you mention it. Thanks !


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