During the last half century, an escape to upstate New York has usually meant a drive up the Thruway or Taconic, or a train ride on Amtrak or MetroNorth. But in the early 20th century, ferries shuttled New Yorkers between Manhattan and points along the Hudson, from Indian Point to Albany.
I was reminded of this earlier this month when, on a road trip upstate, I came across a postcard depicting the Hudson River Day Line Steamer “Hendrick Hudson.” Sent to a Mrs. R Tyde in Stephentown, NY, on July 26, 1950, the back of the card reads, “Dear Folks, Spending the day in Bear Mountain. We had a nice trip up and a nice dinner when we got here. Love to all, Claire, Eleanor and Margie.
That nice trip came near the end of a long, slow decline of a Hudson River steamer industry that had peaked a quarter century earlier.
Launched on March 31, 1906, the $1 million Hendrick Hudson was billed as the “grandest and swiftest river steamer in the world.” At 400 feet in length and 82 feet wide, the steamer had six decks and could hold more than 5,000 passengers, “a capacity equal to that of the five largest hotels in New York City.”