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
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.