Monday, October 25, 2010

Taking a Stroll: Walkway Over the Hudson

With Brett out of town for a business trip, Heather was on her own for entertaining the Garrett grandparents.  Luckily, there hasn't seemed to be a lack of things to do in Upstate NY.  When Brett's grandmother Peggy realized she would be coming to Albany to visit, she knew she would want to call on some family friends in Kingston.

After a lovely lunch (and dessert too!) in downtown Kingston, Heather & Peggy headed south to Poughkeepsie to walk off those calories.  But they weren't making their way to a trail or path through any regular park...they had the Hudson River programmed on the Garmin.  Their sights were set on the Walkway over the Hudson New York State Park.

Nearly Done!
Poughkeepsie Bridge in 1887
The massive bridge that is the Walkway over the Hudson is a story in itself.  It all started in 1855 when an engineer proposed that a railroad bridge be built across the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie.  Folks thought he was just plain crazy and tossed the idea aside.  Around 1871 travelers started to think crossing the river probably was a good idea after all and efforts began to get passage across.  But it wouldn't be until  late 1888 when the first train would go "cho-cho" over the bridge.  The Poughkeepsie Bridge was super cool and wildly if it would have been on Facebook, it would have had a million friends!

Things were good for the bridge until the 1960s.  That's when the Interstate Highway System and a decline in Northeast manufacturing made the bridge just another out-of-the-way, uneconomical hunk of steel & concrete.  In 1974, the final nail was placed in the coffin when a fire damaged 700 feet of bridge decking.  She sat abandoned and alone for many years.

Only 6,766 more feet to go...
In 1998, the bridge was deeded to a nonprofit organization called Walkway over the Hudson.  They raised more than $30 million to restore the bridge and make it part of the New York Parks Department.  The bridge was finally opened to the public in October 2009.  In the first year, nearly a million people had crossed the bridge!  And what a walk they had...touted as the tallest pedestrian bridge in the world at 212 feet above the Hudson, it's also one of the longest at 6,767 feet from end to end!

Kodak Moment
Protective screens keep people from tossing stuff over the rails into the streets below the bridge and there are actually volunteers that are on the bridge to help folks with questions.  There was also a 'mental health button' you could push on an emergency box that would put you straight in touch with someone who could literally talk you off the ledge.   We thought it looked a lot like OnStar.

Proud Peggy on the River
The view from the top was amazing!  We were so blessed to have beautiful weather and to catch the leaves during the peak season.  Seeing the Hudson River from a bird's eye view was breathtaking.  The walkway was filled with tons of strollers, bikes, kids on scooters, folks walking their dogs, joggers and plain ol' sightseers like us.  Every year the bridge holds a 5K run in early October, hopefully Heather & Brett can remember to catch the one next year.

Looking at the Mid-Hudson Bridge
The best part is that it is free to pound the pumped up pavement!  The city of Poughkeepsie hopes that all those walkers will bring tourism dollars to their's expected that the Walkway over the Hudson will generate more than $14 million in direct spending a year.  While we did shell out $5 for premium parking, we considered the view and the experience of literally walking across the Hudson River priceless!

Take a stroll if you're ever in the won't be disappointed!