The Walkway Over the Hudson is one of the most prestigious New York State Parks. Those who live nearby will always appreciate it, but we sometimes get desensitized. It falls into the background, and we don't stop to think about how incredible it is that we have it! When was the last time you stopped to think about the history of it? Well, we got a number of interesting historical facts and bits of zany trivia for you below. How much of this did you know before? Do you have something interesting to contribute? Message us in the app!

Man, This Thing is Big!

We forget how big this thing is at times. We are just so used to it being there that we forget that it is still considered an engineering marvel to this day. The total length is 6,768 feet (2,063 meters), and the top deck is 212 feet (65 meters) above water.

A Popular Place

According to Dutchess Tourism, over 3.5 million people from all over the world have visited the Walkway since it opened in 2009. The volunteer head of the Walkway said in 2008, "We think people will come from all over. It's equivalent to the Eiffel Tower or the Golden Gate Bridge." To paraphrase Field of Dreams, "Build it, and they will come."

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That's What It's All About!

In 2012, the Walkway achieved a new Guinness World Record for the longest line of dancers dancing the Hokey Pokey. The line consisted of 2,569 people.

COVID Couldn't Keep It Down

The Walkway did not close for a single day in 2020. Under Andrew Cuomo's directive, NEw York State Parks like the Walkway remained open during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

A Bridge By Any Other Name...

We may know it as the Walkway Over the Hudson now, but when it was first built, it was known succinctly as the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge.

Hide in Plain Sight

During World War II, the bridge was painted black to avoid visibility in the chance of attack.

Construction

The bridge was constructed by the Manhattan Bridge Building Company. The Architect for the project was John F O'Rourke with the Union Bridge Company.

Why Was It There In The First Place?

The Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge was built in the late 19th century to link New York and New England to an extensive, nationwide railway network. The bridge was used for both freight and passenger trains. The idea for the bridge originated from a Poughkeepsie Journal article dating back to 1868. The proposition was originally ridiculed for its absurdity, for nothing of its magnitude had been attempted yet. It wasn't until 1871 where the railroad bridge was chartered, and was completed in 1888. The first train to cross the bridge did so on December 29th, 1888. At the time, it was considered a "technological wonder." At the time of its constructed, it was the longest bridge in the world. At the height of its use, 3,500 train cars crossed the bridge on a daily basis.

What Kind of Bridge Was It Originally?

The Walkway is a steel cantilever bridge. A cantilever bridge is built on structures that project horizontally into space, supported only on one end. Another marvel of the bridge was that it was a double-track railway bridge, allowing trains going in both directions to share the same track.

The Fateful Fire

In 1974, a fire severely damaged the tracks, ending almost a century of continuous use. The fire was likely started from a spark from an eastbound freight train that had just crossed the span. The Penn Central had neglected the bridge's fire-protection system, which had no water on the day of the fire, and had laid off employees who kept watch of such fires. The fire ended up damaging 700 feet (210 meters) of decking and underlying girders on the bridge's eastern section.

The Last Ride

The last train known to have passed over the bridge was a run-through from the Erie Lackawanna Railway.

Preparations to Turn It Into the Walkway Started Sooner Than You Think...

The Walkway Over the Hudson Group began its efforts to provide public access to the bridge and link trails on both sides of the Hudson as far back as 1992. The group was able to acquire the bridge itself in 1998. It took nearly another decade until Walkway Over the Hudson partnered with the Dyson Foundation to access public and private funding to transform the bridge into the world's largest pedestrian park. Construction started the following year.

When It Became the Walkway

The Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park opened to the public on October 3rd of 2009. The New York State Bridge Authority owns it today and is charged with maintaining the bridge. The park is operated by the New York State Office of Park, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The park opening was a part of the NY400 Celebrations, the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's trip up the river.

It's Not Like It's a Competition

The Walkway Over the Hudson held the title of longest footbridge in the world upon its opening; however, in 2016, it was surpassed by the 7,974 foot long (2,430 meters) Mile Into the Wild Walkway. That's about 1.51 miles in length. The Mile Into the Wild is in Keenesburg, Colorado. The Walkway Over the Hudson is still easily much taller than it, with the Mile Into the Wild ranges from 18 to 42 feet.

A Highly Honored Bridge

The Walkway Over the Hudson was listed on the National Register of Historic Places 5 years after the fire in 1979. In 2009, it was designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2009. It is part of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail Network and was inducted into the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame in 2016.

Going Up!

On August 14th, 2014, the grand opening for their elevator was held. The elevator connected the Walkway to Poughkeepsie's waterfront, right near Waryas Park.

Take a Tour

A mobile web tour was instituted in 2013 consisting of QR codes at various locations on the Walkway.

Events

The Walkway has since been used to hold events from 5K's, Memorial Services, Fourth of July Celebrations, and more.

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