Natural, Artificial, and In-Between

The Hudson River Valley is a beautiful natural landscape. That doesn’t mean that people haven’t altered it, for worse and maybe for better. “In the Hudson’s Image” by Jeanne Haffner looks at some of the ways that people have changed the river and how we see it, including channelizing by the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Hudson River Railroad creating a straightish and hard eastern shore.

Humans change the landscapes we inhabit. We always have and probably always will, so there’s little sense in discussing if the Hudson could have been left in its natural state. More fruitful discussion is to be had about addressing pollution, whether it’s cleaning up the PCBs that were dumped into the river and ended up in the silt at its bed, or reintroducing oysters as natural water filters.

I’ve talked before about how much the landscape and waterscape around New York City has been altered over the years. It’s 150 miles from the mouth of the river at NYC to the head of navigation at Troy, and much of that has been altered as well. Perhaps the amazing thing is that the river is so beautiful that 250 years of engineering projects nibbling at its edges haven’t destroyed it.

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