Hudson, New York is located on the Hudson River in Columbia County at 42.3° north and 73.8° west. The current population of the city is about 8100. The town name comes from the exporer Henry Hudson, for whom the river is also named.
The land around Hudson was originally the home of the Mohican tribe. The first European explorer to reach Hudson was most likely Henry Hudson, who explored the river in the Halve Maen in 1609. The first Dutch settlers arrived in the river valley shortly thereafter. One settler named Franz Van Hoesen purchased a large piece of land from the Mohicans that sits within today's city limits. Van Hoesen helped to develop a small harbor at Claverack to service both his farm and the surrounding area. The land remained sparsely populated and agricultural until just before the American Revolution.
In 1783, several whalers living on Nantucket considered themselves vulnerable to another British attack, and decided to create a new settlement where they could be protected. After surveying large parts of the Atlantic coast and the Connecticut River, these people settled ont he present day site of Hudson. The bought more land from the Mohicans, split it into 50 x 120 foot plots, and began to lay out the grid street pattern for the city of Hudson. In a period of five years, the area had developed from a sleepy Dutch farm to a city of 1500. The city was officially incorporated in 1785. Hudson was the third city in New York State, and the first city to be incorporated into the United States after the revolution.
The new settlers continued to make their living the same way they had on Nantucket, by fishing and whaling. A sperm oil works was built near the harbor, which was then sold as fuel up and down the river. Hudson created a large shipping industry, ferrying goods between Albany and New York City. A distillery was built in the city, whic brought even more wealth to the area. Hudson was also home to over 25 ships, both river fishing ships and ocean-going whalers. By 1820, Hudson had developed into one of the more important commercial cities in the Northeast.
Unfortunately, Hudson was also set for a monumental collapse. The railroad link between New York City and Albany required the use of harbor lands, substantially reducing the harbor's capacity. The discovery of petroleum in the mid 1800's destroyed the sperm oil market, as petroleum was cheaper and easier to manufacture. When the economy started to come back, it was based around smaller industries such as cotton mills and brickyards, and never regained the prominence it had during the early 1800's.
A beneficial side effect of the economic collapse are the unmodified buildings that are now part of Hudson's historic district. These buildings sat dormant for many decades before being restored. These streets now hold antique shops, bed and breakfasts, and other small businesses. Hudson now has a very modest tourism industry, as vacationers from New York City will come up the valley for the historic flavor.
The Rip Van Winkle
Bridge crosses the Hudson River between the city of Hudson, and the village of Catskill
on the opposite shore. The bridge was constructed between 1933 and 1935, using funds from state bonds
and federal donations. In total, the bridge cost $2.4 million to build. About 15000 vehicles cross the bridge daily.
Hudson is also home to the American Museum of Fire Fighting. The museum is the largest in the United States dedicated to the history of fire fighting. The gallery includes an extensive collection of fire fighting equipment. The museum is also home to a museum dedicated to volunteer fire fighting, and a large training area.
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