Saturday, October 31, 2015

Gone . . . But Not Forever

Last April and May, Gossips reported on the departure of the replica Half Moon from the New World and its arrival in the Netherlands, where it is now at the Westfries Museum in Hoorn.

Photo courtesy New Netherland Museum
Recently, David Voorhees, who edits de Halve Maen, the Journal of the Holland Society of New York, brought an article that appeared in the summer issue of the journal to Gossips' attention. It was written by Andrew Hendricks, who helped fund, build, and design the replica Half Moon and is the chairman of the New Netherland Museum. In this article, Hendricks talks about the history of the replica Half Moon and the reasons for its being in the Netherlands today.

Photo courtesy The Holland Society
The replica Half Moon that we know and love is actually the second replica of the ship that brought Henry Hudson to the New World to discover the river that bears his name. The first replica Half Moon was built more than a hundred years ago in the Royal Dockyard in Amsterdam to celebrate, in 1909, the 300th anniversary of the discovery of the Hudson River. It was the centerpiece of the Hudson-Fulton Celebration that marked the Tricentennial. Sadly, twenty-five years later, this gift from the Netherlands, presented as a symbol of the "lively relations, which unite the Netherlands and the United States" and an "indication of the friendly feeling of the kinship and unity of interests which have ever held and still hold the Netherlands and the United States of America in one mutual bond," was left to deteriorate in Cohoes, where it became a shelter for vagrants. (It was the Great Depression after all.) On July 22, 1934, the first replica Half Moon was destroyed by fire.

The plan to build a second replica Half Moon was conceived in 1985, and the ship was launched in Albany on June 10, 1989. As the first replica Half Moon had been a century earlier, the new replica was the centerpiece of the Quadricentennial in 2009, celebrating the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Hudson River. Our observance of the Quadricentennial here in Hudson, Henry & Hudson: The Namesake Celebration, was built about a three-day visit to our waterfront by the Half Moon.

Arlene Boehm
Back in 2009, there was talk of Hudson becoming the home port for the Half Moon. Mayor Richard Scalera in his remarks at the dedication of Henry Hudson Riverfront Park, which opened the Namesake Celebration, articulated the vision:
. . . imagine that instead of being here for only a few days, the Half Moon had good reason to spend more time here--coming and going, as if from a home port. Imagine one of the three slips on the Henry Hudson Park grounds being re-engineered to comfortably accommodate historic vessels like the Half Moon. Imagine the old brick warehouse building there just across Water Street, as the Henry Hudson Maritime Museum, a perfect land-based complement to the floating museum that is the Half Moon. And finally, imagine what something like this could mean for Hudson and its waterfront: a powerful new magnet for tourism, education, recreation, investment, commerce, and quality of life. 
When the Half Moon left for the Netherlands last spring, it seemed that all such hope was dashed, but Hendricks makes it clear in the article that the Half Moon will not be in the Netherlands forever. "The Half Moon will be on loan to the Westfries Museum in Hoorn for up to five years." That means that Hudson has up to five years to get its plans for the waterfront together if it wants to be in a position to welcome the Half Moon home.