Up and Down the River
Continuing the Hoboken Historical Museum’s exhibition “Up & Down the River: A History of the Hudson, 1609-2009.”
Lecture: Sunday May 17th
“Sailors ahoy! At 4 pm on Sunday, May 17th, the community is invited to hear a lecture at the Hoboken Historical Museum on the sailing history of Hoboken’s founding family, the Stevenses, and the nautical innovations pioneered by the institute they founded. The guest lecturer will be Dr. Michael Bruno, Dean if Stevens’ School of Engineering and Science. The lecture is free.”
Up and Down the River
Read much more after the jump…
A History of the Hudson, 1609 – 2009
A hundred years ago this fall, New York City threw a two-weeklong public celebration of a double anniversary: the tricentennial of Henry Hudson’s voyage up the river and the centennial (plus two) of Robert Fulton’s first successful steamboat crossing in 1807. One of the largest public anniversaries in the country’s history, offices and factories closed and the number of commuter trains doubled to handle the crowds for the banquets, parades, historical floats, theatrical performances, lectures, fireworks and an airplane flight by Wilbur Wright around the Statue of Liberty. Authentic recreations of Hudson’s ship the Half Moon and Fulton’s steamboat the Clermont participated in a U.S. Naval parade up the Hudson.
Opening Sunday, March 1, with a free reception from 2– 5 p.m., the Hoboken Historical Museum’s latest exhibition, Up and Down the River: A History of the Hudson 1609 – 2009, joins many celebrations along both sides of the river during this historic quadricentennial year. The Museum’s exhibit, made possible through a special project grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, will extend through the end of the year to accommodate a full agenda of talks, events, educational programs and art celebrating our city’s relationship with the river that shaped its fortunes.
The exhibition and lecture series will trace the important roles the river has played in the life of the Mile Square City:
Providing food and commerce to the area’s first inhabitants, the Lenni Lenape Indians;
- Connecting 19th century New Yorkers and sailing enthusiasts to the Hoboken shoreline during its incarnation as a resort called “Elysian Fields” and home of the cup-winning yacht America;
- Bringing to its piers the grand passenger ships from Europe and later a bustling cargo trade, as depicted in the film “On the Waterfront”;
- Inspiring generations of students and professors at the Stevens Institute of Technology to contribute to the legacy of groundbreaking maritime research; and,
- Providing recreational activities along miles of New Jersey waterfront walkway, thanks to the advocacy of citizen activists.
(History of the Hudson, continued…)
Though Robert Fulton gets credit for inventing the first steam-driven ferry, Hoboken founder Colonel John Stevens and his son Robert, both prolific inventors, weretinkering at the same time with a steam engine and a screw propeller on a ferryboat. In 1811 Stevens launched the first steam-powered commercial ferry service to cross the Hudson. Fulton’s designs and a biography of the inventor and others who were instrumental in helping him develop and refine his steam engine will covered.
For the exhibition, the Museum has commissioned an original mural of the outline of Hoboken’s waterfront along the entire length of the main wall, painted by local artist Ray Guzman. Scale models of vessels from the Hudson River will be on display, including New York Central Tug No. 18 by John Marinovich, and excerpts from Hudson’s first mate’s journal describe the first encounters between the Europeans and native inhabitants. A portion of the exhibit features memorabilia from the 1909 Hudson-Fulton celebration. Items on display come from the Museum’s own collections, as well as from the private collections of a Hudson County-based model shipmaker, the South Street Seaport Museum, Stevens Institute of Technology and the Bayonne Historical Society.
Speaker Series Opens with Mr. Ocean Liner, Bill Miller
The river’s importance in Hoboken’s history will be brought to life through a series of talks by experts in maritime history and science and in other subjects, such as the Indian tribes who once lived here. Kicking off the speaker series on Sunday, March 15, at 4 p.m. is the popular author, speaker, and retired Hoboken teacher, Bill Miller, a recognized expert on the history of the great ocean liners.
In his talk, “The Gateway To The World—Our Harbor of NY and NJ,” Miller will take visitors on a virtual cruise around New York Harbor and detail Hoboken’s history as a great port, with photos of some of the greatest liners to visit the port and other landmarks. Miller, who has authored more than 70 books on maritime subjects, including the Museum’s own On the Waterfront, grew up in Hoboken mesmerized by the glamorous ocean liners and hard-working tugboats alike, as well as the great structures spanning the river and lining its shores. He combined his passion with a life-long “summer” job of researching and writing about the great ships, taking more than 350 voyages: Atlantic crossings, tropical cruises, coastal runs and trips on container cargo ships and exotic banana boats. Known as Mr. Ocean Liner, Miller has published more than 1,000 articles for newspapers, magazines, nautical journals, and newsletters. He has also appeared in some three dozen television documentaries, in the U.S., Britain, Europe, and Australia. He has been chairman of the Port of New York Branch of the World Ship Society, serves on the selection committee for the American Maritime Hall of Fame, created the passenger ship database for the Ellis Island Museum, and currently serves as Curator of 20th Century Maritime History at Manhattan’s South Street Seaport Museum.
Stevens Team Aids in Rescue on the Hudson
Next in the speaker series is Professor Alan Blumberg, director of the Center for Maritime Systems at Stevens Institute of Technology, on Sunday, April 5, at 4 p.m. In a talk titled “The Urban Ocean Observatory—Observations and Forecasting in the Hudson River,” Dr. Blumberg will regale visitors with the thrilling tale of his group’s assistance in the rescue and salvage of USAir flight 1549, which landed on the Hudson just north of Hoboken on January 15. It’s an extreme example of the everyday value of Stevens’ New York Harbor Observing and Prediction System (NYHOPS), which was created by Stevens in 2002 to provide real-time monitoring of ocean, weather, environmental, and vessel traffic conditions throughout the New York Harbor, Hudson-Raritan Estuary, Long Island Sound and the NY/NJ Atlantic Ocean shoreline regions.
Aware of how powerful the river’s currents are, Blumberg and his team were able to guide the rescue operations to a point downstream by the World Financial Center, one of the few calmer spots of the river, where the plane could be safely stowed for a few days. Had the plane landed four hours later, he says, the tidal current would have pulled them north. In the days following the crash, Stevens provided around-the-clock on-call assistance to the various emergency agencies assisting with the salvage operations. NYHOPS is the most extensive estuary monitoring and forecasting system in the world, providing real-time observations and 48-hour predictions of ocean conditions (water level, currents, waves, salinity, and temperature) and weather conditions. The information provided by NYHOPS is designed to address the emergency issues including safe navigation and maritime security within one of the largest ports in the world, water> quality concerns, and beach erosion and flooding along the heavily populated New Jersey and Long Island shorelines. The system is also available to recreational and commercial users of the Hudson, according to Dr. Blumberg. NYHOPS’ website, www.stevens.edu/maritimeforecast/, is consulted by fishermen, kayakers, divers, sailors, and anyone who wants to know which direction and how strongly the currents are moving, how much traffic is plying the surface, and how the shifting mix of salt and freshwater might change the types of fish swimming underneath.