Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Henry Hudson gets 21-Gun Salute in New York City

Four hundred years ago today, on September 8, 1609, Henry Hudson and his Half Moon crew sailed into a certain harbor. And the rest, as the saying goes, is history. The 400th anniverasary of the discovery of what is now known as the Hudson River and Hudson Valley is being celebrated in New York City as the city goes Dutch for the week.

NY 400 Dutch Week begins at the USS Intrepid, with a 21-gun salute by the Dutch warship HNLMS Tromp, to welcome a fleet of Dutch and U.S. ships. That's just the beginning.

New York City is going Dutch all week. There's a recreation of a colonial Dutch village at Bowling Green, artworks and performances by more than 150 Dutch artists on Governors Island, and more. Lots more. So much more that NY400 has created a 19-page PDF with all the details.

The most fun just might be a Silent Disco -- that's a dance party with no sound. Just dancing. The Dutch love it. Maybe we will, too. After all, we love Dutch chocolate and the artists known as the Dutch Masters, with names like Rembrandt and Vermeer.

There's a special exhibition of Vermeer paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, including his iconic The Milkmaid, on loan from Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. It will be the first time in 70 years this painting will be seen in the United States -- it was last exhibited at the 1939 World's Fair. The special exhibit opens on September 10, through November 29.

Dutch Week in New York City ends on Harbor Day, Sunday, September 13, with festivites along six scenic waterfront sites in lower Manhattan. There are opportunities to board the Half Moon for a tour all week, and more as the Half Moon replica heads back up the Hudson River to its home port in Albany, making stops along the way.

The New York City festivities end when a flotilla of historic and modern Dutch and American vessels head north, following the route Henry Hudson took so long ago. The flotilla is being led by the replica ship the Half Moon, plus Dutch Navy ships, the Onrust, 16 flat-bottom boats, and 56 Flying Dutchman-class sailboats.

It will be quite a parade. And nobody will bother to remember that Henry Hudson failed in his mission to discover a shortcut to the Orient. Hudson was hired by the Dutch East India Company to find the Northwest Passage. Instead, he found the Hudson River and the Hudson Valley.

Thank you, Henry Hudson, for your historic mistake.

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