World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Hudson River (United States)

Article Id: WHEBN0003576992
Reproduction Date:

Title: Hudson River (United States)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Saratoga, New York
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Hudson River (United States)

Hudson River
Bear Mountain.
Country United States
States New York, New Jersey
 - left Opalescent River, Boreas River, Moses Kill River, Batten Kill, Hoosic River
 - right Goodnow River, Cedar River (New York), Indian River (New York), Sacandaga River, Snook Kill River, Mohawk River, Normans Kill, Vloman Kill, Coeymans Creek, Hannacroix Creek, Coxsackie Creek
Cities In New York State: Queensbury, Glens Falls, Mechanicville, Troy, Albany, Hudson, Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, Beacon, Peekskill, Nyack, South Nyack, Croton-on-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, Tarrytown, Yonkers, and New York City, and in New Jersey: Alpine, Tenafly, Englewood Cliffs, Fort Lee, Edgewater, North Bergen, Guttenberg, West New York, Weehawken, Hoboken, and Jersey City
Source Henderson Lake, Newcomb, New York
 - location Adirondack Mountains, New York, United States
 - elevation 1,814 ft (553 m) [1]
 - coordinates 5|28|N|74|3|21|W|type:river_region:US-NY name=

}} [2]

Mouth Upper New York Bay
 - elevation 0 ft (0 m)
 - coordinates 42|11|N|74|01|34|W|type:river_region:US-NY name=


Length 315 mi (507 km)
Basin 14,000 sq mi (36,260 km2)
Discharge for Lower New York Bay, max and min at Green Island
 - average 21,900 cu ft/s (620 m3/s) [3]
 - max 215,000 cu ft/s (6,088 m3/s)
 - min 882 cu ft/s (25 m3/s)
Discharge elsewhere (average)
 - Troy 15,000 cu ft/s (425 m3/s)
Hudson and Mohawk watersheds

The Hudson River is a 315-mile (507 km) watercourse that flows from north to south through eastern New York State in the United States. The river begins at Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York. The river flows southward past the state capital at Albany and then eventually forms the boundary between New York City and the U.S. state of New Jersey at its mouth before emptying into Upper New York Bay. Its lower half is a tidal estuary,[4] which occupies the Hudson Fjord. This formed 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.[5] Tidal waters influence the Hudson's flow as far north as Troy, New York.

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 considered the river to be an estuary. The Dutch called the river the "North River" – with the Delaware River called the "South River" – and it formed the spine of the Dutch colony of New Netherland. Settlement of the colony clustered around the Hudson, 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.

During 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 landscape painting, an American pastoral style, as well as the concepts of environmental conservation and wilderness.


The river was called Muh-he-kun-ne-tuk, the Great Mohegan, by the Iroquois,[6][7][8] and it was known as Muhheakantuck ("river that flows two ways") by the Lenape tribe who inhabited both banks of the lower portion of the river - all of present day New Jersey and the island of Manhattan.

An early name for the Hudson used by the Dutch was "Rio de Montaigne". Later, they generally termed it the "North River", the Delaware River being known as the "South River." The name "North River" was used in the New York City area up until the early 1900s, with limited use continuing until modern times.[9] The term persists in radio communication among commercial shipping traffic, especially below Tappan Zee.[10]

The river was included on the 1529 map of Estêvão Gomes and Diego Gutiérrez. On their map it was named Río de San Antonio (St Anthony River),in the context of the Spanish Ajacán Mission of the sixteenth century.[11]


The official source of the Hudson River is Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondack Mountains.[12] However, the waterway from the lake is known as Feldspar Brook and the Opalescent River, feeding into the Hudson at Tahawus. The actual Hudson River begins several miles north of Tahawus at Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York. The Hudson 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 is actually a tidal estuary, with tidal influence extending as far as the Federal Dam at Troy.[4] 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 represents its partially estuarine nature: muh-he-kun-ne-tuk means "the river that flows both ways."[13] The Hudson 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 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 at Kingston, running southwest to the coal fields of northeastern Pennsylvania.

Notable landmarks on the Hudson 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 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, 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 Alpine, Tenafly, Englewood Cliffs, Fort Lee, Edgewater, North Bergen, Guttenberg, West New York, Weehawken, Hoboken, and Jersey City. Cities in New York State include Troy, Albany, Hudson, Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Glens Falls, Yonkers, Newburgh Beacon and New York City.

The natural beauty of the Hudson 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 has been designated the Hudson River Historic District, a National Historic Landmark. The Hudson was designated as one of the American Heritage Rivers in 1997.

The 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

North River is an alternate name for the southernmost portion of the Hudson, usually referring to all or part of the waterway located between Manhattan and Hudson County.[14][15][16][17][18] 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,[9] but continues in use locally by mariners and others[19][20][21] as well as on some nautical charts[22] 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.

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 with Lake Erie, emptied into the Hudson 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 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 to Thomson, where it crossed to the east side. At Fort Edward the canal left the Hudson, heading northeast to Lake Champlain. A barge canal now splits from the Hudson at that point, taking roughly the same route (also parallel to the Delaware and Hudson 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 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 1889, it became the longest single span bridge in the world. On October 3, 2009, it re-opened as a pedestrian walkway over the Hudson, as part of the Hudson River Quadricentennial Celebrations and connects over 25 miles of existing pedestrian trails.[26][27]

The New York, West Shore and Buffalo Railway began at Weehawken Terminal and ran up the west shore of the Hudson 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 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.[28] The Troy–Waterford Bridge at Waterford was the first bridge over the Hudson, 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 south of the Federal Dam.[29]

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 turns west to Corinth before continuing north; at Corinth the Adirondack Railway begins to run along the Hudson'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 makes a turn to the west, crossing the Hudson and running along the west shore of the Boreas River. South of Tahawus the route returned to the east shore of the Hudson the rest of the way to its terminus.

Political boundaries

The Hudson River serves as a political boundary between the states of New Jersey and New York, and further north between New York counties. The northernmost place with this convention is in southwestern Essex County.

Hamilton Essex
Warren river runs along
municipal boundaries
Saratoga Warren
Saratoga Washington
Saratoga Rensselaer
Albany Rensselaer
Greene Columbia
Ulster Columbia
Ulster Dutchess
Orange Dutchess
Orange Putnam
Rockland Westchester
Bergen (NJ) Westchester
Bergen (NJ) Bronx
Bergen (NJ) New York
Hudson (NJ) New York


See Rivers of the Hudson River Basin for an alphabetical listing including tributaries of tributaries

Tributaries of the Hudson (moving downriver north to south) include:

Note: The term kill used above is Dutch for creek.

Pollution and other environmental impacts

PCB contamination

PCBs were widely used as dielectric and coolant fluids, for example in transformers, capacitors, and electric motors.[37] General Electric manufacturing facilities at Hudson Falls and Fort Edward discharged between 209,000–1,300,000 lb (95–590 metric tons) of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) into the river from 1947 to 1977. The PCBs caused extensive contamination of fish in the river and apparently triggered a rapid evolutionary change in the Atlantic tomcod, which after about 50 years of exposure evolved a two amino acid change in its AHR2 receptor gene, causing the receptor to bind more weakly with PCBs than normal.[38] The mutation does not prevent the tomcods from accumulating PCBs in their bodies and passing them on to striped bass and whatever else eats them.[38] This system of passing contamination on to larger organisms is also known as biomagnification. The toxic chemicals also accumulated in sediments that settled to the river bottom.[39] The highest concentration of PCBs comes from the Thompson Island Pool.[40]

In 1966, Pete Seeger and Toshi Seeger founded Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, an environmental education organization and an actual boat (a sloop), that promotes awareness of the river and its history. Clearwater has gained national recognition for its activism starting in the 1970s to force a clean-up of PCB contamination of the Hudson caused by GE and other companies.[41]

There are many economic effects caused by the PCB Contamination. The water cannot be used for agriculture use, money is lost from the fishing industry because of the ban on recreational fishing, medical expenses for people who have side-effects from the water, and the cost of clean-up efforts.

In 1976 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation banned all fishing in the Upper Hudson due to health concerns with PCBs.[42][43] PCBs are thought to be responsible for health issues that include neurological disorders, lower IQ and poor short-term memory (active memory), hormonal disruption, suppressed immune system, cancer, skin Irritations, Parkinson’s disease, ADHD, heart disease, and diabetes. PCB contamination in humans may come from drinking the contaminated water, absorption through the skin, eating contaminated aquatic life, and/or inhaling volatilized PCBs. PCB contamination is especially dangerous for pregnant and nursing women. The contamination can reach the fetus and potentially cause birth defects. Contamination through breast milk can also have harmful effects on the child indirectly.

In 1977, PCBs were banned in the United States.[44] In 1983, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared a 200-mile (322-km) stretch of the river, from Hudson Falls to New York City, to be a Superfund site requiring cleanup.This superfund site is considered to be one of the largest in the nation. In 2001, after a ten year study of PCB contamination in the Hudson River, the EPA proposed a plan to clean up the river by dredging more than 100,000 pounds of PCBs. The worst PCB hotspots are targeted for remediation by removing and disposing of more than 2.6 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment.[45] The dredging project is the most aggressive environmental effort ever proposed to clean up a river, and will cost GE about $460,000,000. GE began sediment dredging operations to clean up the PCBs on May 15, 2009.[46] This stage (Phase One) of the cleanup was completed in October 2009, and was responsible for the removal of approximately 300,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment, which was more than the targeted amount. Over 620 barges filled with sediment were transported to the processing facility on the Champlain Canal, and over 80 rail cars transported the dredged sediment to a waste facility in Andrews, Texas.[47] The true scope of Phase One was about 100,000 cubic yards more than planned, and Phase Two will be expanded as a consequence. Before Phase two of the cleanup, GE was given the opportunity to opt out of the clean up efforts, but they chose to complete the project. Phase two of the cleanup project, led by GE and monitored by the EPA, began in June 2011. This phase targets approximately 2.4 million cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediment from a forty mile section of the Upper Hudson River. Phase Two of the clean up will take approximately 5 to 7 years to complete.[48]

Other pollutants

Other ongoing pollution issues affecting the river include: accidental sewage discharges, urban runoff, heavy metals, furans, dioxin, pesticides, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).[49]

A study reported in the August 2008 issue of the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry suggests that mercury in common Hudson River fish, including striped bass, yellow perch, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and carp, has declined strongly over the past three decades. The conclusions were extracted from a large database of mercury analyses of fish fillets accumulated by NYSDEC and collected over much of the length of the Hudson from New York City waters to the Adirondack watershed. The research indicates that the trends are in line with the recovery that the Hudson River has experienced over the past few decades, now that activist groups, government officials and industry are beginning to cooperate to help clean up the river system.[50]

NYSDEC has listed various portions of the Hudson as having impaired water quality due to PCBs, cadmium, and other toxic compounds. Hudson River tributaries with impaired water quality (not necessarily the same pollutants as the Hudson main stem) are Mohawk River, Dwaas Kill, Schuyler Creek, Saw Mill River, Esopus Creek, Hoosic River, Quaker Creek, and Batten Kill. Many lakes in the Hudson drainage basin are also listed.[51]

Other environmental impacts

Proposed hydroelectric facility

In 1980, Consolidated Edison (Con Ed) agreed to drop its 17-year fight to build a pumped-storage hydroelectricity facility on Storm King Mountain, after a legal challenge by the non-profit environmental organization Scenic Hudson.[52] The actions of local citizen organizations that led to the Con Ed decision spurred the creation of Riverkeeper, a non-profit environmental organization that grew into a global umbrella organization, the Waterkeeper Alliance.[53]

Cooling water withdrawals

In 2010 NYSDEC charged that the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant in Buchanan, is violating the Clean Water Act due to its large withdrawals of water from the Hudson, which kills millions of fish and other aquatic organisms each year. The state is demanding that Entergy, the plant operator, construct cooling towers to mitigate the environmental impacts.[54]

The Hudson River estuary system is part of The National Estuarine Research Reserve System.[55]

See also

Hudson Valley portal
New York City portal
New Jersey portal


  • 1

External links

Template:EB9 Poster
  • Scenic Hudson
  • Hudson River Foundation
  • The River Project
  • Hudson Riverkeeper
  • Hudson River Watertrail Association
  • The Hudson River Environmental Society
  • Hudson River History
  • Chronology — Hudson River history
  • Hudson River Maritime Museum
  • The Hudson - The River that Defined America — produced by National Geographic for the National Parks Service.
  • Official Historic Hudson River Towns, Inc. website
  • Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
  • — dealing with General Electric Company's Hudson River/PCB Cleanup and Superfund site.
  • Groundwork Hudson Valley & Saw Mill River Coalition
  • Beczak Environmental Education Center
  • C-SPAN's Alexis de Tocqueville Tour with discussion of Steamboat travel on the Hudson in the 1830s.
  • American Paradise: The World of the Hudson River School — an exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (available online as PDF.)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.