The official source of the Hudson River is Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondack Mountains. However, the waterway from the lake is known as Feldspar Brook and the Opalescent River, feeding into the Hudson at Tahawus. The actual Hudson River begins several miles north of Tahawus at Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York. The Hudson is joined at Waterford (north of Albany) by the Mohawk River, its major tributary, just south of which the Federal Dam separates the Upper Hudson River Valley from the Lower Hudson River Valley or simply the Hudson River Valley. The Hudson river then flows south, passing between the Catskill Mountains and the Taconic Mountains, widening significantly at the Tappan Zee, finally flowing between Manhattan Island and the New Jersey Palisades and into the Atlantic Ocean at New York Bay, an arm of the ocean, where it forms New York Harbor.
The lower Hudson is actually a tidal estuary, with tidal influence extending as far as the Federal Dam at Troy. Strong tides make parts of New York Harbor difficult and dangerous to navigate. During the winter, ice floes drift south or north, depending upon the tides. The Mahican name of the river represents its partially estuarine nature: muh-he-kun-ne-tuk means "the river that flows both ways." The Hudson is often mistaken for one of the largest rivers in the United States, but it is an estuary throughout most of its length below Troy and thus only a small fraction of fresh water, about 15,000 cubic feet (425 m³) per second, is present. The mean fresh water discharge at the river's mouth in New York is approximately 21,400 cubic feet (606 m³) per second. The Hudson and its tributaries, notably the Mohawk River, drain a large area. Parts of the Hudson River form coves, such as Weehawken Cove in Hoboken and Weehawken.
The Hudson is sometimes called, in geological terms, a drowned river. The rising sea levels after the retreat of the Wisconsin glaciation, the most recent ice age, have resulted in a marine incursion that drowned the coastal plain and brought salt water well above the mouth of the river. The deeply eroded old riverbed beyond the current shoreline, Hudson Canyon, is a rich fishing area. The former riverbed is clearly delineated beneath the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, extending to the edge of the continental shelf.
The Delaware and Hudson Canal ended at the Hudson at Kingston, running southwest to the coal fields of northeastern Pennsylvania.
Notable landmarks on the Hudson include West Point, Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, Bard College, the Culinary Institute of America, Marist College, the Thayer Hotel at West Point, Bannerman's Castle, Metro-North Railroad's Hudson Line (formerly part of the New York Central Railroad system), the Tappan Zee, the New Jersey Palisades, Hudson River Islands State Park, Hudson Highlands State Park,Walkway over the Hudson, Sing Sing Correctional Facility, New York Military Academy, Fort Tryon Park with The Cloisters, Liberty State Park, and Stevens Institute of Technology. Cities and towns on the New Jersey side include Alpine, Tenafly, Englewood Cliffs, Fort Lee, Edgewater, North Bergen, Guttenberg, West New York, Weehawken, Hoboken, and Jersey City. Cities in New York State include Troy, Albany, Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Glens Falls, Yonkers, Newburgh Beacon and New York City.
The natural beauty of the Hudson Valley earned the Hudson River the nickname "America's Rhine", being compared to that of the famous 40 mile (65 km) stretch of Germany's Rhine River valley between the cities of Bingen and Koblenz. A similar 30-mile (48 km) stretch on the east bank of the Hudson has been designated the Hudson River Historic District, a National Historic Landmark. The Hudson was designated as one of the American Heritage Rivers in 1997.
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