Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What Surrounds Us

Ten years ago, Don Christensen curated a monumental exhibition at the Hudson Opera House called Seeing South BayI inherited the files from that amazing project, all packed in a big box, and periodically I rummage through that box to see what's there. I never fail to find something worthy of sharing. Yesterday, I discovered the text of a history of South Bay. I haven't yet been able to determine who wrote it or for what purpose, but the first paragraph contains an idea so compelling that it stuck in my head. 
At the time of Hudson's founding in 1785, the open waters of South Bay covered some 110 acres. This tidal estuary of the Hudson River and its companion bay on the other side of Hudson--North Bay--along with the river itself on the west all but encompassed the new city in water. From the beginning, the water surrounding Hudson served a dual purpose. It defined a natural landscape beauty that was fully appreciated at the moment of the earliest settlement in the area, and it provided the means to pursue human commerce. 
South Bay, North Bay, and the river itself "all but encompassed the new city in water." Water connected Hudson with the world. It made Hudson "the seaport far from the sea" and "provided the means to pursue human commerce."

More than two centuries later--two centuries during which Hudson progressively turned its back on the river and turned its bays into garbage dumps and landfills--Hudson is all but encompassed not by water but by the Town of Greenport--a situation generally thought to be restrictive not expansive. We have the chance now--if we only have the wisdom--to look back to the water that surrounds Hudson to define both the natural landscape beauty and the commercial potential of our future.


  1. How about Hudson Opera House putting up that show again - shared fundraiser for HH and HOH.
    I have one little photo -Plumb Bronson House mounted on foam. With the LWRP languishing and before it gets voted on it would be great to have the public see the beauty and intent of Hudson's South Bay.

  2. I often wonder how the residents of Hudson could have allowed a garbage dump to be sited on the flanks of North Bay, it seems like such a blatant violation of the most basic environmental principles. But here we are in 2011, and our City government is literally encouraging a dump truck route through South Bay. What do we tell the children?

  3. It would be good for us and for the new newcomers to see the South Bay exhibit, though I imagine hard to re-assemble in its entirity, Hudson River artworks and all. However, we have a chance at this point in time to reclaim the river and the waterfront for Hudson and it would be a shame to regress and blow it and succomb to corporate greed. It's been almost six years since the opportunity arose with the defeat of the cement plant - Let's not let the chance slip through our fingers.