National Geographic : 1948 Jul
The Mighty Hudson Though It Stands 150 Miles from the Sea, Albany Flourishes as a Tidewater Seaport Henry Hudson's Half Moon (1609) and Robert Fulton's Clermont made nautical history at Albany. In 1831 some 15,000 canalboats and 500 sailing ships tied up at city wharves. A century later the Port of Albany was completed at a cost of $13,000,000. Each year it handles some 250 ocean-going vessels. They rise and fall more than four feet as tides change the direction of the Hudson's flow. This excursion boat passes one of the world's biggest grain elevators (pages 4 and 5). As a matter of fact, the origin of the tune as well as of the words of "Yankee-Doodle" is uncertain. It is a great mistake to travel between Albany and New York solely by rail, auto, or plane. To really know the river, it is necessary to go, at least occasionally, by boat. Albany itself is a deep-sea port, comparable to Portland, Maine, and to Providence, New Haven, Savannah, and Mobile. Although molasses from Java and Cuba, canned fruit from Hawaii, and canned fish and lumber from the Pacific coast come directly by ocean carrier, the major commodities brought to Albany by seagoing vessels are grain and petroleum products. It is one of the major grain ports of the country and one of the largest shipping points for petroleum products on the Atlantic sea board. When Sloops Plied the River For two centuries the Hudson's chief means of transportation, and for a century its only means, was the sloop. By taking the tide on the first of the flood at the Battery in New York City, and provided the wind remained southerly, sloops could make Albany in 24 hours. As a matter of fact, an unfavorable tide with a northerly wind so delays modern steam ships in reaching Albany that owners have been known to upbraid their captains because of their slowness.