Hudson-Fulton Memorial Park, many northeast-siders may not be as familiar with Yonkers northwestern-most public park which sits on the cliffs of Warburton Ave, over-looking the Hudson and steeped in History.
The park is small, only 2.2 acres, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in charm, atmosphere and nostalgia.
A beautiful statue dominates the park, perhaps a much taller version of the English explorer, it depicts Henry Hudson, gazing out onto the Hudson, toward what he hoped was the Northwest Passage that would lead him to China.
It obviously wasn’t, but what he had stumbled upon instead was one of the most well protected natural harbors in the world and one of the best eventual cities in the world just north of there, Yonkers, NY!
For those that do not know the tragic end to Hudson’s life story, in a nutshell, he is leading another exploration for the Northwest Passage in 1611, just 2 years after he rode into the Yonkers area for the first time, this time further north in what is now Hudson Bay in Canada. Lost at sea for almost a month, his crew decided to form a mutiny and they cast him off with his son, forever adrift in the Bay and Hudson was never seen or heard from again.
I often recount this story to people because to me, Henry Hudson is one of the most over-looked explorers in history textbooks, losing out to Magellan, Columbus, De Soto, Cortes, Gama…even freakin’ Verrazano…I mean come on, New York’s lower Bay could have been discovered by any Joe Shmoe, it’s pretty huge! But since he got there 85 years before Hudson did, he gets the credit and notoriety.
Getting back to the park, the playground area is small and a staircase leads down to the Greystone Train Station for Metro North commuters.
The park bears the name of Robert Fulton as well, in reference to the great Hudson-Fulton celebration which was dubbed New York City’s “great celebration ever”, which is saying a great deal considering the city’s history.
Back in 1909, marking the 300th anniversary of Hudson’s discovery and the 100th anniversary of the first steam-powered vessel that set sail off the battery from Robert Fulton, the city threw one of the largest parties in its history, with over 2 million people in attendance and a celebration that lasted for 2 weeks as ships sailed up and down the Hudson and lights were illuminated on all the bridges and docks.
Fitting since both men contributed so much to the city, with the Dutch controlling the largest port in North America and ships no longer being at the mercy of the weather as steam engines could now power them to port.
The park does however have some oddities, such as this little tree that grows underneath Henry Hudson’s foot…
Take a moment to admire the statue of Hudson, enjoy the expansive views of the river and see perhaps what he saw over 400 years ago…minus of course the Tappan Zee Bridge.