Thursday, August 19, 2010

Postcards from the Edge (of the Hudson)

The Hastings Historical Society blog is on vacation.

To tide you over, here are a couple of postcards from beautiful and historic Hastings-on-Hudson, one from the 1960s and the other from around 1909.

Wish you were here!

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sails on the Hudson

I’ll bet many of you spotted the picturesque ships on the Hudson River on June 6th, 2009. Member Paul Duddy did, and snapped these great photos for us. This nautical parade, called the Great River Day Flotilla, was part of the 2009 Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Celebration.

Pretty as the ships were, when you know a little something about each one, you realize that they also represent the history of transportation on the Hudson River. For example, the ship you see above is a replica of Henry Hudson’s ship, the Half Moon. The original was commissioned by the Dutch East India Company in 1609 to hold a crew of 20 men. In this ship, Hudson sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and into the Delaware Bay before exploring our very own river in the hopes that it would connect with the Pacific Ocean. He sailed as far as Albany, opening up that spot for the first Dutch settlement in New York, which was established in 1614.

This replica of the Half Moon took a year to build. She was constructed at the Snow Dock in Albany and launched in June 1989. The vessel, based on extensive research on Hudson and Dutch East Indian Company ships, is 85 feet long on the deck and is powered by sails, with an additional modern motor. One of the flags flying from the masts is the flag of the original masters of the ship, the Dutch East Indian Company.

This ship is a replica of Adriaen Block’s ship, the Onrust, which means “restless” in English. The original Onrust was the first “decked vessel” built from the ground up on American soil. Block arrived from Amsterdam in the Tyger, but that ship was destroyed in a fire. Block built his new ship during the winter of 1614, possibly with help from the local Lenape tribes. It was in this vessel that Block sailed into the Long Island Sound and discovered the island later named after him.

The replica of the Onrust was built in Rotterdam Junction, New York, by New Netherland Routes, Inc. It is 42 feet long, and was built of white oak and pine using traditional 17th century Dutch ship-building techniques. Construction began in 2006 and was finished in 2009, just in time for the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Celebration.

The Clearwater is not a replica of an old ship, but it was modeled after the 18th and 19th century Dutch sailing sloops that dominated Hudson River trade until the arrival of the steamship. It was built in 1968 by the Harvey Gamage Shipyard in South Bristol, Maine. The Clearwater organization uses the ship for its educational programs that teach school groups and the public about the Hudson River ecosystem. In 2004 she was added to the National Register of Historic Places for the important part she played in the environmental movement.

The Mystic Whaler is a reproduction of a late 19th-century New England coastal trading schooner. She was built in 1967 in Tarpon Springs, Florida and is 83 feet long, with both traditional sails and a modern diesel engine. This vessel is based in New London, CT, but she is regularly chartered by the Clearwater organization to help them reach more schools with their education programs.

And last but not least is the John J. Harvey, the only ship here that is not a copy of an earlier vessel. This fireboat was launched in 1931 and has been in service almost ever since. She is one of the first fireboats on the New York waterways with a combustion engine, replacing the 1920s steam-powered fireboats. John J. Harvey himself was a fireboat pilot who died in the line of duty at a fire on the North River Piers in 1930. The ship named after him fought hundreds of fires on ships and piers all along the west side of Manhattan during its long years of service, including the 1942 fire that destroyed the ocean liner Normandy. The John J. Harvey was acquired by a preservation organization in 1999, and in 2000 she, too, was put on the National Register of Historic Places for her role in marine history.

Now, there’s plenty of Hudson River history for you. And if you didn’t get a chance to see the flotilla, you can visit the Half Moon at the Hudson River Maritime Museum in Albany, the Clearwater in Beacon, and the John J. Harvey at Pier 63 near West 26th Street.
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