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About This Site

"We have been called the landscape that defined America. Our past includes virtually every phase of the development of our nation. From Henry Hudson to the Revolutionary War, and from the Hudson River School of painting to the founding of the modern environmental movement, the Hudson River has been at the center of American history."

Governor George Pataki

When Henry Hudson ventured up this magnificent river in the Half Moon, he could see what the native inhabitants had known for a long time; that the Hudson supplied everything one needed; fish from its waters, game from its forests, beauty to feast the eye, transportation and strategic high points from which to anticipate one's enemies. Over the years, these advantages of living in the Hudson River Valley have drawn populations. It is natural therefore that almost all phases of the state of New York's history have been played out on its shores.

The Desmond-Fish Library owns a rare copy of a panoramic 19th century depiction of the length of the Hudson River from New York Harbor to the Adironacks. Within its five inch wide, six foot long folds, master engraver William Wade rendered in intricate detail both shores of the Hudson, including major tributaries, mountains, and falls; factories, mills and boatyards; towns, lighthouses and stately private residences. The 1846 book is both rare and fragile. By scanning the images onto the web, the book is now accessible to students and scholars of the Hudson River. The Virtual Trip on the Historic Hudson River gives a close up look at the panorama with explanations of each of the "points of interest" delineated by Wade along the way.

Because this area is so rich in history and continues today to be a vital center of industry, tourism and environmental and historic restoration, the site provides links to these other aspects of the historic Hudson River not mentioned in Wade's panorama. The student can examine one town or historic site from the 1846 panorama and even before and follow that town's development through the later nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For example the town of Cold Spring is described by the British actress Fanny Kemble when she visited in 1832. Wade's panorama gives us a look at Cold Spring in 1846. Links from that page will also lead the student to a description of the West Point Foundry and the Parrott gun developed at the Foundry which played such a key role in the Civil War. The Foundry continued to be the economic lifeblood of Cold Spring until its closing in the early twentieth century. The student can then travel to Cold Spring today to view its shops, antique stores and five star restaurants as well as its museums and historic restorations; The Foundry Museum of the Putnam County Historical Society, Constitution Marsh and Boscobel Inc.

Also included in this site are links to the Desmond-Fish Library, home of a unique slide collection of Hudson River painters, many of which can be viewed on the web and for those who prefer just to read the words of William Wade, the text of the Panorama.

This web site was made possible by the generous funding of The Friends of the Desmond-Fish Library, The Hudson River Foundation and The Desmond-Fish Library.

For questions and comments about this web site, please contact Polly Townsend or Carol Donick.