Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area
European exploration of the Hudson River Valley began when Henry Hudson set off from the Netherlands in 1609 in search of a shortcut to Asia. At the time, it is believed that over 17,000 indigenous people lived along the river they called the Mahicanituck, “the river that flows both ways”, due to it being a tidal estuary. Settled by the Dutch, and then the English, the region became a magnet for immigration. Central in importance during the American Revolutionary War, the British campaign strategy to gain total control of the river failed. The natural beauty of the valley gave birth to the Hudson River School of Painters, the first great American art movement. Home to America’s wealthy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, their great estates still stand. The Industrial Revolution helped build some of that wealth, but also caused environmental damage that inspired a conservation movement that continues today, led by a coalition of government and non-government groups.
The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area was designated by Congress in 1996 and is one of the now fifty-five federally-recognized National Heritage Areas throughout the United States. Through a partnership with the National Park Service, Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area collaborates with residents, government agencies, non-profit groups and private partners to interpret, preserve and celebrate the nationally-significant cultural and natural resources of the Hudson River Valley. In this way, we encourage public stewardship for these resources as well as economic activity at the local and regional level.
To improve awareness of these resources, we have established a network of designated Heritage Sites, classified by theme and amenities. This network helps us to better interpret the individual sites and also helps us to better interpret the "big picture" story of the entire region and how those individual sites have worked together to shape our national history.
Designated Heritage Sites of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area are those that meet the following criteria: owned and operated by a local, state or federal government or a not-for-profit organization; open and accessible to the public; relevant to at least one of the themes of the Heritage Area; contain interpretive components and a trained staff; offer visitors an incomparable cultural or historical Hudson River Heritage experience. There are now more than 100 designated Heritage Sites of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.
The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area does not own or operate any of its designated heritage sites. They are owned and managed by the organizations listed in the site descriptions. Please call ahead for special accommodation needs or with any questions about their sites.
The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area partners with the National Park Service to provide grant opportunities to heritage sites, non-profits, and local governments. These grants are intended to provide seed money to organizations for the purposes of: programming, interpretation and marketing that support the mutual goals of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and applicants.
The Hudson River Valley Ramble is an annual event series that celebrates the history, culture and natural resources of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, as well as the amazing landscape, communities, and trails throughout the region. Every September, ‘Ramblers’ come not only from the Hudson Valley region and New York State, but from other regions of the country as well to discover the riches our Valley has to offer.
The 21st annual Ramble will take place every weekend in September 2020: Sep 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, & 26-27!
The Heritage Area is managed by the Hudson River Valley Greenway, established by the New York State Hudson River Valley Greenway Act of 1991 to create a process for voluntary regional cooperation among 279 active Greenway Communities within 14 counties that border the Hudson River. To view a map of the Hudson River Greenway Area and our partner communities, please click here. The Hudson River Valley Greenway (the "Greenway"), as established in the Greenway Act, is an innovative state sponsored program created to facilitate the development of a regional strategy for preserving scenic, natural, historic, cultural and recreational resources while encouraging compatible economic development and maintaining the tradition of home rule for land use decision-making. The Greenway Act created two organizations, within the executive department, to facilitate the Greenway process: the Hudson River Valley Greenway Communities Council and the Greenway Conservancy for the Hudson River Valley, Inc.
The Greenway Communities Council (the "Greenway Council") was established to coordinate with local and county governments the development and enhancement of local land use planning techniques and the creation of a voluntary regional planning compact for the Hudson River Valley. Appropriated funding to the Greenway Council makes available to Greenway Communities planning grants, compact grants and technical assistance through the "Greenway Communities Program".
The Greenway Conservancy is a public benefit corporation that works with local and county governments, regional, local, private and public organizations, and individuals. The Greenway Conservancy coordinates efforts to establish a Hudson River Valley Trail system, promote the Hudson River Valley as a single tourism destination area, assist in the preservation of agriculture and strengthen state agency cooperation with local governments. The Conservancy Trail Grant Program provides grant funding for trail planning, construction, and interpretation.
The Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist College is the academic arm of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area. Its mission is to study and to promote the Hudson River Valley and to provide educational resources for heritage tourists, scholars, elementary school educators, environmental organizations, the business community, and the general public. Its many projects include the publication of the Hudson River Valley Review and the management of a dynamic digital library and leading regional portal site.
National Heritage Areas (NHAs) are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape. Through their resources, NHAs tell nationally important stories that celebrate our nation’s diverse heritage. NHAs are lived-in landscapes. Consequently, NHA entities collaborate with communities to determine how to make heritage relevant to local interests and needs. The HRVNHA is one of 55 designated National Heritage Areas in the United States.
NHAs are a grassroots, community-driven approach to heritage conservation and economic development. Through public-private partnerships, NHA entities support historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, heritage tourism, and educational projects. Leveraging funds and long-term support for projects, NHA partnerships foster pride of place and an enduring stewardship ethic.
NHAs further the mission of the National Park Service (NPS) by fostering community stewardship of our nation’s heritage. The NHA program currently includes 55 heritage areas. NHAs are not national park units. Rather, NPS partners with, provides technical assistance, and distributes matching federal funds from Congress to NHA entities. NPS does not assume ownership of land inside heritage areas or impose land use controls.