Monday, January 2, 2023

What Might Have Been

Today, a reader sent me, digitally, this clipping from the Albany Evening News for December 9, 1927.

This front page article announces an event that was to take place on December 28, 1927. Colonel Frederick Stewart Greene, the Commissioner of Public Works for the State of New York, was coming to Hudson to talk about "a vehicular tunnel to connect the city of Hudson with Catskill, under the Hudson River." It seems the idea had the support of civic groups both in Hudson and in Catskill.

As we know, the tunnel never became a reality. Instead, five years later, in 1932, the New York State Bridge Authority, "born out of the necessity to build a bridge over the Hudson River to link the city of Hudson and the village of Catskill," was created, and, in 1933, work began on the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, which was completed in 1935. The photograph below was taken in 1937, two years after the official opening of the bridge.

Colonel Frederick Stewart Greene, who came to Hudson in 1927 to talk about the tunnel, was an interesting character. He was appointed to the position of Commissioner of Public Works for the State of New York by Governor Alfred E. Smith, as "one of the small group of hard-hitting, sharp-talking experts" Smith gathered together to "run the business of the State without political interference." He served as Commissioner of Public Works during Smith's four terms as governor and also during the terms of Franklin Roosevelt and Herbert Lehman. Greene's obituary in the New York Times, which appeared on March 29, 1939, describes him as "the father of concrete roads in New York" and also noted that he was "an outspoken opponent of roadside billboards." On the latter subject, the Times obituary quotes Greene as saying, "There are people who would put a sign on a coffin if they thought it would bring them a penny."


  1. Thanks for this. By chance Karen and I walked back and forth across the RVW Bridge yesterday. This was weirdly a first for us in nearly 14 years in Hudson. Definitely a treat visually. Bridge appears to be in excellent condition. The sound of the traffic, even at 10am on a holiday was the downer. There's an argument for reducing the speed limit from 40 mph to 30 mph. The difference in a car would be an additional 29 seconds to cross (114 seconds vs 85 seconds). Bet the noise level would be significantly lower and wear and tear on the bridge also less. Mark Orton

  2. Too bad. This ‘reverse bridge’ design in the Netherlands would be amazing here.

    1. The Netherlands design is neat and fairly easy to do in a country that is virtually entirely flat and with water that is quite shallow. By contrast, the channel under the RVW Bridge is a minimum of 30 ft deep. To build an underpass with reasonable gradients approaching and departiong would probably require starting a tunnel somewhere near the Rte 9W intersection in Catskill. Don't know where the tunnel would emerge on our side??