Credit: Marist College Archives and Special Collections

What is the Hudson River Valley?

The Hudson River Valley is one of the America's most important scenic, cultural, economic, and historic regions. For many of the European colonists, the 315-mile long river was America's first river, discovered by Henry Hudson in 1609. For the Algonquin peoples the Hudson estuary was called Mohicanituk, "The River That Flows Both Ways." For all who have seen it and experienced its magic, the Hudson River and its valley live up to the claim "the landscape that defined America."

Click for  Map Recognizing its national value, in 1996 Congress formed the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area to recognize, to preserve, to protect, and to interpret the nationally significant history and resources of the valley for the benefit of the nation. Congress deemed the Hudson River Valley to be nationally significant because it has provided the setting and inspiration for new currents of American thought, art, and history and was the "fountainhead of a truly American identity." Great Houses, American Revolutionary War, the Hudson River painters, the Knickerbocker writers, and the scenic beauty of the region are all distinctive.

One of forty National Heritage Areas in the country, the historic sites, parks, landscapes, and waterways throughout this 150-mile valley offer visitors myriad opportunities to discover people, places, and events that made important contributions to the story of America's evolution and prosperity.

Extending from Albany to the northern border of New York City, the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area encompasses over 4 million acres. The region is home to 2.5 million residents, five National Historic Sites, 58 National Historic Landmarks, 89 historic districts, and over 1,000 sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Communicating the wealth of the Valley's resources, however, presents a challenge. As noted by New York State officials, key data describing the special resources of the Valley are not readily available to residents, to students, or to visitors in a comprehensive or coordinated way. The Hudson River Valley Institute's Digital Library and Portal Site meet that challenge.