September 5, 2011

WALKING: Kingston Point Park

In 1896, Kingston Point Park became a stop for the Hudson River Dayliner, a classy and well-trafficked steamboat service running from New York City to Albany. From 1896 to 1920, it was the thriving park pictured above. It had a merry-go-round, a dance hall, and a shooting gallery. People would gather on warm nights for picnics and fireworks. The Oriental Hotel, which was built overlooking the park, burned down in 1922, and by 1928, there was nothing left. I'm not sure what happened, but the Great Depression, which followed immediately, couldn't have helped.

The park was refurbished in the late 80s and early 90s. There's only a hint of what it once was.

There are a few gazebo shells, and a bridge that leads out to the Western bank of the Hudson.

I walked down the railroad tracks, which curve along a berm rising out of a lush swamp. The tracks lead towards the Rondout. A trolley ran from the center of the Strand up to the park.

From the Southern edge of the park, you can see the Kingston Point Lighthouse jutting out into the Hudson. Some days, the whole peninsula is covered with waterfowl.

Giant tankers still barrel down the river. I saw three as I wandered down the tracks.

The remnants of what the park once was are everywhere: scattered bricks, worn and rounded, railroad tracks peeking out from the grass, gazebos stranded in the middle of copses of trees. You walk through a turn-of-the-century clearing, and suddenly you're in the middle of a modern baseball diamond next to a BMX raceway. It's strange.

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