Since its founding in 1963, Scenic Hudson has been a key leader in protecting the Hudson Valley’s irreplaceable landscapes — including the region’s productive family farms — while advancing balanced and sustainable development, and protecting the valley’s land, air, and water from threats like pollution.
Along the way, we’ve helped establish 60-plus parks, often transforming contaminated industrial sites along the Hudson River into magnificent green spaces for all to enjoy. As our seventh decade begins, here are some standout moments from our first six.
1963: A movement organizes into something lasting
Six community members come together to found Scenic Hudson. Their goal: to lead the campaign against construction of a proposed hydroelectric plant on iconic Storm King Mountain in the Hudson Highlands.
1968: A landmark case is won
A federal court ruling, known as the Scenic Hudson decision, gives people the right to sue to protect cherished lands and waters. Many consider it the birth of the modern grassroots environmental movement.
1980: Storm King is protected forever
Scenic Hudson Board Chair Franny Reese signs the agreement leading to Storm King’s permanent protection. Reese would later become namesake of a state park along her beloved river.
1990: First Scenic Hudson Park opens
A new era of public green spaces begin as Scenic Hudson’s first park, Lighthouse Park, opens on the Esopus waterfront. Today, Lighthouse Park is adjacent to our Esopus Meadows Preserve, but it is owned by the town.
1996: An iconic inspiration point opens to all
One of Scenic Hudson’s most popular green spaces, Poets’ Walk Park in Red Hook, opens fittingly: with a poetry reading. The park was named for the numerous 19th-century writers, including Washington Irving, who were inspired by walks through the grounds.
1997: A historic viewshed is protected
The vistas of farms, forests, the Hudson River, and the Catskill Mountains fed the creativity of Hudson River School painter Frederic Church — who set his Columbia County hilltop home, Olana, to maximize views. Scenic Hudson began conserving more than 2,000 acres within Olana’s viewshed in the mid-1990s to ensure they could continue inspiring people forever.
1998: Valuable agricultural lands begin to get special protection
Scenic Hudson begins an initiative to conserve the region’s productive farmland. To date, more than 20,000 acres on 140-plus family farms and orchards have been protected.
2009: A thrilling new kind of park welcomes hundreds of thousands
The now-famous pedestrian-only Walkway Over the Hudson, to which Scenic Hudson provided leadership financial support, opens on what was an old railroad bridge across the river. Today, half a million visitors cross the span each year.
2009: A key reclamation of the river’s health begins
General Electric begins a six-year dredging project to remove soils contaminated with toxic PCBs from the Hudson River. The project marked a milestone in Scenic Hudson’s ongoing campaign to restore the river’s health.
2022: Sojourner Truth State Park opens
More than 500 people celebrate the opening of the Empire State’s newest such park, Sojourner Truth State Park. Scenic Hudson protected the 500-acre former industrial site, partnering with New York State Parks to create the first state park in the City of Kingston.