Thinking Citizen Blog — Great Rivers of the World XVII: the Hudson: Thomas Cole, the Erie Canal, PCBs
Thinking Citizen Blog — Wednesday is Climate Change, the Environment, and Sustainability Day
Today’s Topic — Great Rivers of the World XVII: the Hudson: Thomas Cole (1801–1848), the Erie Canal (1821), PCBs (1960s)
Of critical strategic importance during the American Revolution, the Hudson became economically vital in the 19th century especially after the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825. The river was romanticized in the artwork of Thomas Cole and the other members of the “Hudson River School” and in the novels of James Fenimore Cooper. In the mid to late 20th century, PCB pollution of the river would lead to the passage of the Clean Water Act of 1972. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
FROM LAKE TEAR OF THE CLOUDS IN THE ADIRONDACKS TO NEW YORK HARBOR
1. The Hudson is 381 miles in length and its major tributary is the Mohawk.
2. It originates in small glacial lakes near Mt. Marcy, the highest point in New York state (5344 feet).
3. The river lies almost entirely in New York but does form the boundary between New York and New Jersey for about 21 miles.
NB: Famous crossings include Bear Mountain Bridge (near West Point, the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time of opening in 1924), the George Washington Bridge (connecting Manhattan and New Jersey, the world’s busiest motor vehicle bridge, completed 1931), and the Holland Tunnel (1927), at the time the longest continuous underwater vehicular tunnel in the world and one of the few engineering marvels of the world named after its chief engineer who died a few years before its completion.
THE ERIE CANAL: links Hudson to Lake Erie (completed 1825)
1. Reduced transportation costs by 95%.
2. Denounced by many as “Clinton’s Folly” and “Clinton’s Big Ditch.” (Dewitt Clinton was the Governor of New York at the time).
3. At the time the second longest canal in the world (only the Grand Canal in China was longer). But what a difference from #1 to #2 — 363 miles versus 1104).
GENERAL ELECTRIC, PETE SEEGER, CLEAN WATER ACT OF 1972
1. Pete Seeger, the folk singer, began drawing attention to the pollution of the Hudson River in the mid 1960s. His movement was symbolized by the sloop Clearwater (above) that sailed up and down the river spreading the word. Another consciousness-raising initiative was the Great Hudson River Revival — an annual music festival.
2. The worst corporate offender was General Electric between 1947 and 1977. Specifically, polycholorinated bipenyls (PCBs).
3. The Clean Water Act of 1972 established a nationwide discharge permitting system.
Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to climate change or the environment. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to climate change that the rest of us may have missed. Your favorite chart or table perhaps…
This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your own mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart.