Quick history. Named after Henry Hudson, an English sea explorer and navigator serving the Dutch East India Company back in the early 17th century – the Hudson River is undoubtedly the most iconic natural and cultural landmark of eastern New York. Yes, it may not be as grand as the Mississippi River or the Ohio River, but its geopolitical position, the myths and stories behind it, and the beauty and splendor surrounding it, certainly make it essential to the American heritage.
Just close your eyes and imagine a timelapse of suave Henry Hudson suddenly suffering a fatal mutiny when he insisted on charting these territories during a harsh winter. Imagine a small hustling and bustling trading post bloating into the hustling and bustling modern-day New York City, all on its banks. It’s easy to get a local patriotic kick out of it, that’s for sure.
Although the river is only 315 miles long, we believe there are uncharted territories in its current cultural reputation.
If you ever wondered how deep the Hudson River is embedded in our national identity, we’re here to help you fill in the gaps with some fun trivia.
The Hudson River was initially known as Muh-he-kun-ne-tuk by native tribes or the Great Mohagen, meaning “a river that flows two ways.” The reason for this name is entirely geographical because Hudson is more than just a river – it is a tidal estuary. What does this mean? Well, it is an arm of the sea stretching inland where freshwater and saltwater meet, and since it usually has two high and two low tides within a day, that rise and fall of water level changes the direction of the flow.
To put things in perspective, at the end of summer, the entire river is salty all the way up to Newburgh due to this tidal motion.
The bay itself is the second largest in the world, only overshadowed by the Bay of Bengal in Asia. It is sparsely populated with only a dozen communities nestled along its shores. Back in the day, these settlements were once trading posts, which supported the establishment of the Hudson’s Bay Company, a pioneering fur trade industry now said to be the oldest corporation in the US.
Blue Crabs and Oysters
A lot of people think that Maryland is the only place which harbors blue crab, but both local commercial and recreational fisheries have reported catching between June and October. As the salt line moves northward, the crabs migrate up the river to feed, so don’t be surprised if you spot one these days.
Oysters, on the other hand, were not sighted for some time due to overfishing, but as the Hudson river became cleaner, there is evidence that oyster beds are making a comeback. Why is this important? Well, let’s just say that it is always a good sign of an ecosystem’s health if it can sustain its denizens.
Tappan Zee Bridge
Although the river gets much narrower closer to NYC, the state has made the second-widest point of Hudson River – Tappan Zee Bridge near Tarrytown – it’s source of toll revenue. Why? This location is just 25 miles outside of Port Authority’s jurisdiction, which means all the money goes to New York State.
Back in 1862, the crew on USS Passaic picked New Jersey Palisades to be the safe zone for testing their cannons. The ironclad sailed up the Hudson and aimed at the rock cliffs, but it misfired several times to the amusement of the officers aboard. Many believed that the design of the armed ship would interfere with its gunnery, but on the fourth shooting attempt, it splintered the rock wall with a massive bang that sounded like a powder mill explosion.
To everyone’s satisfaction and despite pessimistic predictions from critics, USS Passaic destructive demonstration literally paved the way to modern-day American military nautics.
So, did you know any of these facts?
Do you think you think you could contribute with more interesting trivia about the Hudson River and its history? Let us know what you think by leaving your comments below and we’ll see which way the river flows.