Monday, February 23, 2009

February Hudson Quadricentennial Countdown

This special monthly feature to The Tidal Zone blog recounts the highlights that led to Henry Hudson’s sail past the tidal marsh of what is now Yonkers’ Beczak Environmental Education Center on September 13, 1609.

Petrus Plancius map from 1599.

Sky blues and sunset purples bring a calm beauty to Petrus Plancius’ map of the world, drawn just ten years ago in 1599. Henry Hudson traces the routes he has sailed with his finger, remembering the utter whiteness of the frozen sea. He and Plancius, the freethinking Dutch astronomer and cartographer, are in Hudson’s Amsterdam apartment. Speaking in Latin—their common language—they discuss the route Hudson should take when he sails for China in two months. The Dutch United East India Company has hired him to find a northeast passage. But is that possible? No one has succeeded yet. Open books and unrolled maps cover the table, telling the discoveries of Ferdinand de Soto, who claimed a new world for Spain, George Weymouth, who claimed another part for the English, as well as Hudson’s friend Captain John Smith of the English settlement of Jamestown in the colony of Virginia.

A Lenape man sitting along the river Muhheakantuck, over 3,650 miles away, is equally lost in his thoughts. The previous evening, in the Meeting House, he heard a startling prophecy from a tribal elder. “A big boat is coming on the horizon. Those on it will change our way of life forever.”

Lenore Person
Marketing and Communications Manager