How to get people from Promenade Hill down to the waterfront is a perennial problem when talking about waterfront development in Hudson. The 1996 Vision Plan proposed an elevator descending the west face of the bluff. A consultation with landscape architect Robert Toole during the planning period for the Quadricentennial in 2009 came up with the idea for a staircase, with lots of turns and landings, winding down the south side of the bluff. During that conversation, someone recalled this historic picture of Promenade Hill, which shows something like steps going down the west face of the bluff.
The description of Parade Hill from the 1970 application documents for National Register of Historic Places, which Gossips published yesterday, holds the clue to when this picture was taken and what it shows: "In 1878 further improvements were made. A retaining wall was constructed along the west and south boundaries and a new iron fence constructed." The people, the steps, the missing fence--this is 1878, and these are the masons and laborers who worked on the retaining wall. The steps were very likely constructed as a means to get the workers to the work site.