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North River Hudson River
Stretch of the Hudson River between New Jersey and Manhattan anachronistically referred to by some as North River indicated in red
The Hudson looking south from atop the Hudson Palisades, anachronistically referred to by some as the North River
The origin of the name North River is generally attributed to the Dutch. In describing the major rivers in the New Netherland colony, they called what is now the Hudson the North River, the Connecticut the Fresh River, and the Delaware the South River. Another theory is that the "North" River and "East" River were so named for the direction of travel they permitted once having entered the Upper New York Bay.
In 1808 the Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, issued his report of proposed locations for transportation and communication internal improvements of national importance. The North River figures prominently among his proposals as the best route toward western and northern lands; similar routes were chosen for the Erie Canal and other early canals built by the state of New York. He notes the following in reference to the North and Hudson Rivers:
What is called the North River is a narrow and long bay, which in its northwardly course from the harbor of New York breaks through or turns all the mountains, affording a tide navigation for vessels of eighty tons to Albany and Troy, one hundred and sixty miles above New York. This peculiarity distinguishes the North River from all the other bays and rivers of the United States. The tide in no other ascends higher than the granite ridge or comes within thirty miles of the Blue Ridge or eastern chain of mountains. In the North River it breaks through the Blue Ridge at West Point and ascends above the eastern termination of the Catskill or great western chain.
A few miles above Troy, and the head of the tide, the Hudson from the north and the Mohawk from the west unite their waters and form the North River. The Hudson in its course upwards approaches the waters of Lake Champlain, and the Mohawk those of Lake Ontario.
On a 2000 map of "Northern Approaches to New York City" included in Hagstrom's New York [State] Road Map the entire river adjacent to Manhattan was labeled "Hudson River (North River)", with just "Hudson River" (no parenthetical) appearing further north at Tappan Zee.
North River piers
Lower Manhattan circa 1931. East River piers span the foreground; those stretching off into the background into the Hudson River were historically known as North River piers
Piers along the Hudson shore of Manhattan were formerly used for shipping and berthing ocean-going ships. In shipping notices, they were designated as, for example, "Pier 14, North River". As with the river, the name "North River piers" has largely been supplanted by "Hudson River piers", or just by a pier and number, e.g., "Pier 54". Piers above Pier 40 have addresses approximately that of Manhattan's numbered streets plus 40 - thus, for example, North River Pier 86 is at West 46th Street.
Most of the piers that once existed in lower Manhattan fell into disuse or were destroyed in the last half of the 20th century. The remaining piers are Pier A at the Battery and piers ranging from Pier 25 at North Moore Street to Pier 99 at 59th Street. Many of these piers and the waterfront between them are part of the Hudson River Park which stretches from 59th Street to the Battery. The park, a joint project between New York City and New York State commenced in 1998, consists of several non-contiguous parcels of land and piers totaling 125 acres (0.51 km2), plus another 400 acres (1.6 km2) of the river itself. Several piers were rebuilt for adaptive re-use as part of the park project, with approximately 70% of the planned work complete by 2011.
Pier A is a designated national and New York City landmark. The building on the pier dates to 1886, and was used by the city's Department of Docks, Harbor Police, and was later a fireboat station. The pier was closed and renovated from 1992 to November 2014, after which it reopened as a restaurant.
Pier 51 houses water-themed playgrounds, part of Hudson River Park.
Pier 52 and 53, opposite Gansevoort Street, form the "Gansevoort Peninsula", created with landfill. This peninsula is home to the last vestige of what was once Thirteenth Avenue in Manhattan. The peninsula was a Sanitation Department storage and parking facility, but in January 2019, it was announced that a 5.5-acre (2.2 ha) park will be designed on the site by James Corner Field Operations. At the end of Pier 53 is the FDNY's Marine 1 fireboat facility. The facility occupies a new building completed in 2011.
Pier 55 is not in use. At the site, plans arose in November 2014 for a new park designed by Heatherwick Studio and costing between $130 million and $160 million. The park, a partnership between Barry Diller and Diane von Fürstenberg's foundation, the city and state, and Hudson River Park Trust, would float completely above the water. Plans for the pier were scrapped in September 2017 due to cost overruns and lawsuits, as the budget had gone over $200 million by then. The project was revived in October 2017 as part of an agreement to finish the park.
The Chelsea Piers entertainment complex is located at piers 59 through 62, from West 17th to West 22nd Street. In the early 1900s, Chelsea Piers was used by the Cunard and White Star lines, and was the intended destination of the Titanic as well as the final berth of the Lusitania.
Pier I and most of Riverside Park South were originally part of the abandoned Penn Central railyard between 59th and 72nd Streets. These lettered piers were built at a 55-degree angle to the shore to facilitate the transfer of rail cars from their tracks to a waiting barge. Pier I is the only remaining rail pier, and is currently a recreational park.
Railroads and ferries
Railroad and ferry terminals along the North River circa 1900
The last crossing to be built was the south tube of the Lincoln Tunnel in 1957, but in 1962, another deck was added to the George Washington Bridge. Since 2003, various proposals have been made to add a new train line. This includes an extension of the completed 7 Subway Extension, the canceled Access to the Region's Core, and the proposed Gateway Project.
^Steinhauer, Jennifer."F.Y.I",The New York Times, May 15, 1994. Accessed January 17, 2008. "The North River was the colonial name for the entire Hudson River, just as the Delaware was known as the South River. These names went out of use sometime early in the century, said Norman Brouwer, a historian at the South Street Seaport Museum."
^Roberts, Sam. "Brooklyn Murders, Depression Love, a Glamorous Librarian", The New York Times, June 24, 2007. Accessed January 6, 2008. "You may even be directed to the sewage treatment plant in West Harlem, practically the last vestige of the name that, legend has it, the Dutch bestowed on the tidal estuary navigated by Henry Hudson to distinguish it from the South River, now known as the Delaware."