European exploration of the Hudson River Valley began when Henry Hudson set off from the Netherlands in 1609 in search of a shortcut to Asia. At the time, it is believed that over 17,000 indigenous people lived along the river they called the Mahicanituck, the river that flows both ways, due to it being a tidal estuary. Settled by the Dutch, and then the English, the region became a magnet for immigration. Central in importance during the American Revolutionary War, the British campaign strategy to gain total control of the river failed. The natural beauty of the valley gave birth to the Hudson River School of Painters, the first great American art movement. Home to Americas wealthy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, their great estates still stand. The Industrial Revolution helped build some of that wealth, but also caused environmental damage that inspired a conservation movement that continues today, led by a coalition of government and non-government groups.
The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area was designated by Congress in 1996 and is one of the now fifty-five federally-recognized National Heritage Areas throughout the United States. Through a partnership with the National Park Service, Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area collaborates with residents, government agencies, non-profit groups and private partners to interpret, preserve and celebrate the nationally-significant cultural and natural resources of the Hudson River Valley. In this way, we encourage public stewardship for these resources as well as economic activity at the local and regional level.
To improve awareness of these resources, we have established a network of designated Heritage Sites, classified by theme and amenities. This network helps us to better interpret the individual sites and also helps us to better interpret the "big picture" story of the entire region and how those individual sites have worked together to shape our national history.
Designated Heritage Sites of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area are those that meet the following criteria: owned and operated by a local, state or federal government or a not-for-profit organization; open and accessible to the public; relevant to at least one of the themes of the Heritage Area; contain interpretive components and a trained staff; offer visitors an incomparable cultural or historical Hudson River Heritage experience. There are now more than 100 designated Heritage Sites of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.
The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area does not own or operate any of its designated heritage sites. They are owned and managed by the organizations listed in the site descriptions. Please call ahead for special accommodation needs or with any questions about their sites.
The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area partners with the National Park Service to provide grant opportunities to heritage sites, non-profits, and local governments. These grants are intended to provide seed money to organizations for the purposes of: programming, interpretation and marketing that support the mutual goals of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and applicants.
Hudson River Valley Ramble
The Hudson River Valley Ramble is an annual event series that celebrates the history, culture and natural resources of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, as well as the amazing landscape, communities, and trails throughout the region. Every September, Ramblers come not only from the Hudson Valley region and New York State, but from other regions of the country as well to discover the riches our Valley has to offer.
The 18th Annual Ramble will take place on September 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, and September 30-October 1, 2017!