Life on the Hudson River: 7 joys
By Caitlin Kelly
I grew up in Toronto, a city that has managed, except for a few exceptions at its most eastern and western edges, to cut off easy access to Lake Ontario.
So it’s been a tremendous joy to spend decades living on the eastern edge of the Hudson River, with terrific views from our every window.
Some of our many riparian pleasures include:
The new bridge
It’s gorgeous! The old one, in use between 1955-2017, was desperately overdue for replacement and finally was torn down and replaced with this stunning new version spanning the Hudson. It glows at night in lavender. Details here.
Sunsets and sunrises
We have a gloriously clear view from our bedroom window of the exact moment the rising sun hits all the windows of homes across the river, high on its opposite shore, lighting them up in a stunning, brief blaze of red. I call it the ruby moment and love to track how that time changes with the seasons.
Sunsets are always spectacular, whether streaks of orange and purple or a single red ball dropping over the horizon.
It’s very much a working river, with plenty of big barges being shoved ahead by small, powerful tugboats. There is some sailing, kayaking and canoeing as well, with boat clubs up and down the river.
Swoon! It’s embarrassing to admit that only this year, thanks to a discount ticket and a musical I had longed to see — Into the Woods — did I finally drive 45 minutes north to this exquisite early 19th century estate that holds an annual Shakespeare Festival on the grounds. The house, painted mustard, is gorgeous from the outside (I intend to go back for a tour), and the theater was a hoot. It’s like a circus big top, with seats on 3 sides, and a sand-filled stage with three exits.
People arrived a few hours before the Broadway show, which debuted in 1986, spreading out picnic blankets on the lawn, enjoying the sunshine and spectacular river views, and starting their meals with bottles of wine and friends.
The performance I saw was fantastic, prompting a standing ovation well-deserved.
Built in 1872, this spectacular hilltop mansion — with stunning views — was the home of legendary painter Frederic Church. It’s filled with fantastic, high Victorian art and architecture.
I was married there, the first time, in May 1992, in a lovely and austere chapel right at the river’s edge — shown in period engravings — built in 1833 and abandoned in 1906. It has no electricity, just a huge chandelier lit by candles. Our Lady of Restoration is now non-denominational. From its website:
the first Catholic church north of Manhattan.
Its designer was another immigrant, a 19-year-old from England, Thomas Kelah Wharton. Built in 1833 of locally made red brick covered with stucco, the chapel was in the Greek Revival style, then in vogue. Its columns were of the Tuscan order, a simple, unfluted version of the Doric, whose supreme expression is the Parthenon in Athens..
Contemporary press describes a festive dedication, September 21, 1834, with people arriving by boat. A large choir performed, along with a band from West Point, “whose notes might be heard in the recesses of the mountains,” for dignitaries of church and state.
The town is a fun easy day trip from Manhattan, 50 miles north, easily accessible by commuter train.
It’s also a spot where the river is very narrow and the landscape feels timeless, like you’ve been whisked back to 1773 or 1842.
Metro-North’s Hudson Line
A paean to a commuter train line?
It’s almost always on-time, with cars that are usually clean and always air-conditioned.
Its tracks — most compellingly — run parallel to, and very close to, the Hudson River.
As the train heads north from Grand Central Terminal, it skirts the Harlem River before turning north. If you sit in the window seat on the river-facing side, you’re always guaranteed one of the prettiest rail commutes in the U.S.