Decades after the destruction of the Alexander Hamilton, there is a plan to bring a passenger steamer back to the Hudson River--not one of the original Hudson steamers, since none survives, but the National Historic Landmark vessel S. S. Columbia.
Designed by the celebrated naval architect Frank Kirby and the artist Louis O. Keil, the Columbia was built in Wyandotte, Michigan, in 1902. Today, it is one of only two turn-of-the-century excursion steamers still in existence, the other being its sister ship, the Ste. Claire. Until 1991, the Columbia and the Ste. Claire took holidaymakers from downtown Detroit to Bois Blanc Island, a Canadian island where an amusement park had been created as a destination for the steamers. Since 1991, when the steamers were retired and the site of the amusement park sold to developers, the Columbia has been docked beside an industrial plant on the Detroit River, deteriorating.
|Columbia newly shrink-wrapped|
|Columbia in March 2013|
The Columbia's restoration is promised to "incorporate green technologies into her historic structure, promoting and demonstrating principles of stewardship and sustainability." The intention is to engage the public throughout the restoration process, inviting people to witness craftsmen, artisans, artists, and apprentices at work. Ultimately, the restored steamer will be a "floating mobile museum and cultural venue," offering daily excursions that combine "an enjoyable visitor experience with unique ease of access to the rich scenic, cultural, historic, and environmental resources of the Hudson River Valley and New York Harbor."
|Assemblymember Didi Barrett and State Senator Terry Gipson hold up a model of the S.S. Columbia as J. Winthrop Aldrich (right) speaks about the S.S. Columbia Project to guests gathered yesterday for the "Nope-Not-Yet" Shad Party, hosted by Joan K. Davidson, Furthermore, and the Hudson River Foundation.|