Summer on the River: Views of the Hudson, Close and From Afar

The summer is coming to a close, and I felt like I spent a good part of it on the Hudson River. There's something soothing and reinvigorating about heading down to the river, or traveling up the river as the case may be, and it makes a mighty big city seem small, even impermanent. Watching the ebb and flow of the water brings to mind notions of eternity, a place of watery blueness meant for endless sailing or swimming or for washing clothes or for baptism or for setting out in a raft in a great adventure.


Explorations of the Hudson River can begin anywhere along its shores and last a lifetime. The museum at 99 Gansevoort St. in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan is not a bad place to start. The new Whitney Museum of American Art (above) offers big views of Lower Manhattan, New Jersey, New York Harbor, and the river. The first time I visited the museum, I swept past the art to explore the terraces outside. It was all so airy and blue. Inside, where stairways offer great views of the river, much of the art seems to emanate something deep and intangible from its watery surroundings. Look at an Edward Hopper near sunset.    

Obviously, exploring the Hudson River by boat is a good idea, but looking at the river while walking the rails of the High Line is highly recommended. Also, explore Pier 66. At this pier just parallel to a busy restaurant near W. 28th St., check out "Long Time," a working water wheel sculpture by Paul Ramirez Jonas (above).

Linden Terrace, a high spot in Fort Tryon Park, makes an excellent spot for reading.

My summer Hudson explorations coincided with a lot of inner reflection and restlessness on my part, nothing too serious or even that profound, but modes I usually associate with winter. I had been reading Marilynne Robinson's great trilogy (Home, Gilead, Lila) of American life in the Depression and its aftermath. The novels are set in the fictional town of Gilead, Iowa, a place about as far away as you can get from modern-day New York City. Anyway, I often had one of the books with me on walks to the Hudson, and I appreciated how the river encouraged both mindful reflection and flights of imagination.        

Close by, the walk high above the Henry Hudson Parkway toward The Cloisters is one of the most beautiful in New York City. Take the A train to 190th Street to get there. (A map follows this post.)

If you really want to know the Hudson River, though, go to where they paint it. A photo of an everyday sunset in Hudson, New York gives you the idea.

Just outside of Hudson is Olana, the home of Hudson River School artist Frederic Edwin Church. Above, on the grounds of the estate, modern-day painters artistically explore the surrounding landscape.

The Hudson Highlands just north of the city is easily accessed by train. Residents of Northern Manhattan can hop on the train at the Marble Hill station and travel up river. A round-trip ticket for $21 takes you all the way to Cold Spring, NY (about 1 hour and twenty minutes one way) and back again.

The photo above is from the gazebo at the waterfront in Cold Spring, NY. with views of Storm King State Park on the west side of the river. It was a hot Labor Day, but keep this spot in mind for the fall.

A train trip with wonderful river views makes an end in itself. (here, near Croton-on-Hudson).

So does a walk.

Back home in northern Manhattan, we see the Henry Hudson Bridge at last light. The lower Hudson is really a tidal estuary, with daily tidal flows to and from Troy, NY back down to the harbor. At this spot on Spuyten Duyvil, the low tides leave the basin nearly parched and dry, while the high waters team with life and reflection.  

A map:

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from the summer of 2015.

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