Poughkeepsie was the place to be this Columbus Day Weekend, as the newest jewel in the NY State park system - the much anticipated Walkway Over the Hudson - is now open to the public. I am quite certain that the residential streets leading up to the old railroad bridge that spans the river never experienced such traffic on a Sunday, and if it keep sup they will need additional parking to accommodate all the eager pedestrians. before.
I drove over from Connecticut with the kids as an afternoon outing, along with thousands of others in the region who had the same idea on a crisp, cloud studded Autumn afternoon. It was well worth it.
This bridge was the first of any kind to span the Hudson River south of Albany. Erected in the late 1880's, it was at that time the longest bridge in the world. The Central New England Railway crossed the span to access the Pennsylvania coal fields. It was still in use, though much reduced, when in 1974 a fire started on the Poughkeepsie side that ruined the tracks but left the structure intact. The bridge was abandoned - too expensive to take down - and there it stood, a curiosity to motorists crossing over on the nearby Mid Hudson Bridge.
The vision of a pedestrian walking bridge utilizing the piers and trusses of the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge had early proponents, and in 1992 a nonprofit organization was launched by dedicated but underfunded volunteers to try and move the idea forward. More recently, substantial support from private foundations, businesses and government grants made the Walkway Over the Hudson a reality and a fitting capstone to the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's voyage up his namesake river.