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Henry Hudson Park

Henry Hudson Park

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

On September 2, 1609, the English captain of the Dutch ship, Halve Maen (Half Moon), directed his ship to drop anchor in the lower bay of what is now New York Harbor. Henry Hudson (1575-1611) had been hired by the Dutch East India Company to find a sea route through North America to the Far East. The ship sailed up the river that now bears his name, docking off Spuyten Duyvil and attempting travel even further upstream before abandoning the quest, realizing that the river was narrowing. Hudson's last voyage was in 1611 when after discovering Hudson's Bay and claiming it for England, his crew mutinied and cast him adrift.

Almost two centuries after Hudson's historic voyage, inventor Robert Fulton (1765-1815) introduced the world to steam navigation as he piloted the North River Steamboat (later known as the Clermont) up the Hudson River. In 1906 civic leaders organized the Hudson-Fulton Celebration to mark the 300th anniversary of Hudson's Halve Maen and the 100th anniversary of the voyage of Fulton's North River Steamboat. Plans were made to erect a monument to Hudson and to construct a Hudson Memorial Bridge linking the Inwood district of Manhattan with Spuyten Duyvil in the Bronx. For the first project, funds were raised, a site was donated, and in 1909, ground was broken.

Although Karl Bitter prepared a plaster model of Henry Hudson, and the massive Doric column was erected by 1912, the project was postponed indefinitely when funds ran out. The second project progressed as far as the City's acquisition of land in Spuyten Duyvil for the Bronx approach to the bridge in 1906-09. In 1935 Robert Moses revived both projects.

Drawing on his combined powers as New York City Park Commissioner and as head of several construction authorities, he sought to transform a secluded corner of the Bronx into a key link in a regional network of parkways, bridges, and parks. Parks & Recreation acquired the site of the unbuilt bridge approach and additional land between 1935 and 1937. The entire site was named Henry Hudson Memorial Park and improved with landscaping, paths, benches, iron fences, and a playground. Between 1936 and 1938 the parkway was completed, and the upper level of the Henry Hudson Bridge was opened to traffic. The monument was completed and dedicated in 1938. Sculptor Karl H. Gruppe, a student of Bitter's (who had died in 1915), redesigned the figure of Hudson and created the two bas-reliefs for the base of the column. Clad in seafaring garb, Hudson stands as if balancing himself on a ship's deck. The relief on the south side depicts Hudson receiving his commission from the Dutch East India Company, and the relief on the north side portrays the first fur trading post on Manhattan. From his elevated position Henry Hudson continues to keep watch over parkway and bridge, and the ever-changing landscape along the river that bears his name.

In 1989 Henry Hudson Park underwent a capital reconstruction which provided new playground equipment, restored the monument plaza, and improved the paths and stairways. An extensive restoration of the park's ballfields and playgrounds was completed in 1995, including new swings, play equipment, a compass rosette, a new scoreboard for the baseball field, and a baseball player weathervane for atop the comfort station. Halve Maen Overlook in Spuyten Duyvil Shorefront Park, just 150 feet south of the park across Palisade Avenue, provides visitors with a place to gaze over forested cliffs to see boats make their way along the mighty Hudson River and trains speeding along its shore.

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Henry Hudson Park Weather

  • Tue
    Showers Likely
    73°F
  • Wed
    Sunny
    74°F
  • Thu
    Mostly Sunny
    72°F
  • Fri
    Sunny
    68°F

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