Sunday, June 24, 2012

Albany on the Hudson

Did you know that Albany is a port town? Henry Hudson sailed up the river to this point in 1609. He found out that it's as far as you can go up river in an ocean-going vessel. To this day, ocean-going ships still make the trip up to Albany's port to unload and load and return south.

The Port of Albany on the Hudson River. View looking south toward New York City (150 miles away).

Albany was the point at which lumber, harvested from forests in the state's interior, was processed for shipment to points south (primarily New York City). Back in the early nineteenth century, the Erie Canal was dug, the first locks of which begin at Albany, to open up the west and the Great Lakes region to barge traffic. The railroads came quickly after and relegated the canal to mostly leisure traffic.

Port activity. Such as it is.

The Hudson experiences significant tidal effects as far north as Troy (just north of Albany). The Mahican Indians called the river muh-he-kun-ne-tuk, the river that flows two ways. If you watch at the right time, you can actually see the tide moving up river.

When I was a kid, the river was seriously polluted. Nobody wanted to have anything to do with it. A huge freeway was built between downtown and the river, over the old railroad tracks and the old lumber district, cutting the city off from the foul waters.

These days, the river is very much cleaner thanks to decades of environmental legislation and cleanup efforts, not to mention the decline of industry in the river's valley. I remember the Hudson being brown; these days it's a beautiful blue color. It's too bad that freeway still blocks access to the waterfront. Although, in the 1990s, the city built a pedestrian bridge over the freeway to reconnect downtown to a newly created riverfront park. That's better than nothing, I suppose.


  1. Geeze, my U.S. geography is not up to snuff... I had never thought about the Hudson being up in Albany-- I only ever associated it with NYC and the Staten Island Ferry :)))

  2. I did not know the Hudson had gotten so polluted at one time. Today many parts look beautiful.

    I remember the Schuylkill (school-kill)River in Philadelphia was very polluted in the 60s. Locals called it the "Sure Kill" River.

  3. Next autumn we're going on an riverboat cruise up the Hudson, across the state on the Erie Canal to the Oswego canal, then into Lake Ontario and down the St Lawrence to the Saguenay and back to Montreal. We've been reading about the Erie Canal for a long time and are delighted we'll finally be in it.

  4. Tends to make one wonder why they would build a freeway through the middle of the city.

  5. I remember going through the Erie Canal and going past Albany, thinking some day I would like to return and see it. I hope I can stay at Sean's some day.

  6. judy, it begins way up in the Adirondack Mountains and flows for over 300 miles.

    diogenes, and there's an expressway with that name, if I'm not mistaken.

    will, that sounds great. I hope you plan on taking pictures and blogging about the adventure!

    starman, it was the thing to do in the 50's and 60's.

    michael, I imagine he would be thrilled to meet you!


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