Scenic Hudson Commends Gov. Cuomo, Partners in Creation of Hudson River Skywalk

Friday, May 31, 2019 -- Scenic Hudson
Contact: 

Riley Johndonnell
Director of Communications, Scenic Hudson, Inc.
Tel: (845) 473-4440 x222
rjohndonnell@scenichudson.org

HUDSON VALLEY—Scenic Hudson today released the following statement about the June 1 grand opening of the Hudson River Skywalk—the 2.5-mile link between the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill and Olana State Historic Site in the Town of Greenport that includes a spectacular mile-long pedestrian walkway spanning the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. Scenic Hudson was a partner in the Skywalk’s creation with the New York State Bridge Authority, New York State Department of Transportation, Historic Bridges of the Hudson Valley, Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Olana State Historic Site, The Olana Partnership, Greene and Columbia Counties, Temple Israel of Catskill, and Columbia Memorial Health.

“The grand opening of the Hudson River Skywalk marks another milestone in Governor Cuomo’s leadership to improve New York’s infrastructure and increase opportunities to enjoy our state’s natural and historic treasures. The Skywalk not only directly connects the homes of Thomas Cole and Frederic Church—the two most important artists of the Hudson River School of painting—but provides an opportunity to enjoy magnificent views of the river and Catskill Mountains that inspired them. It will further enhance this region’s reputation as a great destination for exploring both the outdoors and vibrant communities like Catskill and Hudson. We applaud all of the partners who worked so hard to make this happen,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan.

Sullivan continued, “Skywalk, connecting Columbia and Greene Counties and the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, linking Westchester and Rockland Counties, with multi-modal bridges are bookends in providing exciting new pedestrian and bicycling routes that connect communities across the Hudson River. In conjunction with Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Trail from New York City to Buffalo and Canada, the opportunities for healthy travel have never been better! Bravo and thanks to Governor Cuomo for these terrific new infrastructure improvements.”

Jeff Anzevino, Scenic Hudson Director of Land Use Advocacy said, “Congratulations to Tara Sullivan of NYSBA for spearheading this project and bringing all the partners together. The improved sidewalk across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, viewing platforms, and interpretive panels describing the relationship between Cole and Church will truly link these renowned artists’ homes and their personal histories. But, just as important, Skywalk celebrates the Cole House and Catskill as the place where American art was born and promotes the broader region in association with Cole, Church and the Hudson River School. The DOT’s roundabout, picnic areas and walking paths to the historic sites have created a parklike setting that will dramatically enhance the region’s destination value and help local economies in Catskill and Hudson. We at Scenic Hudson salute our partners at Olana and the Thomas Cole House for their stewardship of these historic and cultural gems.”

The opening of the Skywalk coincides with National Trails Day.

An economic study conducted for the Skywalk forecasts that it will generate 100,000 to 150,000 new visitors annually to Columbia and Greene counties and $4.5 million in new visitor spending.

Scenic Hudson has conserved lands critical to understanding masterpieces of Church, Cole

In addition to playing an advisory role in the Skywalk’s creation, Scenic Hudson has led efforts to protect views from Olana. Frederic Church considered Olana’s landscape to be his masterpiece. Over the last 25 years, the organization has worked with landowners, The Olana Partnership and fellow land trusts to conserve almost 2,000 acres of land in 23 land preservation projects that contribute to spectacular vistas enjoyed from Church’s mansion and carriage roads that he laid out on his hilltop estate. These lands include farm fields and vineyards, a prominent ridgeline across the river and Mount Merino, a hill just to the north of Olana. Their permanent protection ensures that today’s Hudson River artists can capture the ethereal scenery of the region on canvas or photos, while local residents and tourists can find inspiration in their magnificent beauty. Our partners, including OSI, the Columbia Land Conservancy, OPRHP, Audubon New York, the Trust for Public Lands and Greene County have collaborated to protect almost 1,000 additional acres visible from Olana .

In 2016, Scenic Hudson protected 144 acres in Catskill along Catskill Creek, and two years later it partnered with the Greene Land Trust to create Mawignack Preserve. Thomas Cole painted the landscape within the preserve more than a dozen times—so walking its mile-long trail offers a rare opportunity to “step into” one of his paintings. Cole’s Catskill Creek paintings currently are the subject of an exhibition on display at the Cole National Historic Site.

Thomas Cole Painting and Present Day Landscape

Scenic Hudson's Mawignack Preserve (right) conserves a landscape that was frequently painted by Thomas Cole. 

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