|A photographic documentary of both sides of the river, from New York Harbor to Albany, updating and reprinting the classic 1910 Panorama of the Hudson.
In honor of the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s voyage of discovery on the river that now bears his name, Panorama of the Hudson River offers a twenty-first-century updating of G. Willard Shear’s long-cherished 1910 photographic survey of the river’s shorelines, tracing the Half Moon’s 1609 route from New York Harbor to present-day Albany. It also reprints the earlier edition, making it readily available for the first time in decades. Juxtaposing Shear’s photographs with those of renowned Hudson Valley photographer Greg Miller not only combines two extraordinary feats of photographic artistry, it also provides an important record of changes that have occurred along the river since the Hudson Tricentennial celebrations of 1909. Panorama of the Hudson River will interest anyone enchanted by the Hudson River’s beautiful and varied landscapes, and will also provide an excellent tool for those involved in continuing efforts to protect treasured but threatened places along its banks.
The original photographic panoramas were sold as souvenirs aboard Hudson River Day Liners, grand steamships that plied the river between 1863 and 1948. According to the text in the 1910 edition, Shear’s east- and west-bank panoramas are comprised of 800 photographs. Despite strides in technology since then, Greg Miller took considerably more shots—as many as 2,500—for this updated edition, and even with the aid of a computer he probably spent more time matching up his prints than Shear did in constructing the original panoramas. Blame for that can be laid, in part, on the plethora and size of new buildings along the shore, primarily in and around Manhattan, which play havoc with angles while shooting from the deck of a moving boat. But Shear also had the benefit of the Day Liners, which maintained a regular schedule and a more or less constant speed, while Miller was at the mercy, not to mention generosity, of boat owners who were intrigued with the project. In the end, the variety of craft on which he made the 140-mile journey—the 80-foot schooner Adirondack; Launch 5, a former New York City Police Department harbor patrol boat; and the Serenity, an electric-powered vessel—says much about the Hudson’s continued vitality.
Wallace Bruce, the poet, diplomat, and Hudson Valley native who spearheaded the earlier panorama project, wrote that “the Hudson, more than any other river, has a distinct personality—an absolute soul-quality.” Above all, Greg Miller’s panorama proves that nothing has diminished the Hudson River’s power to cast a mighty spell.
Greg Miller is a photographer based in New York’s Hudson Valley. A book of his photographs, The Hudson River: A Great American Treasure, was released in 2008. He lives in Monroe, New York.