Is the New ‘Hudson River Skywalk’ Just a Big Ripoff Tourist Trap?
There's been lots of fanfare about the new Hudson River Skywalk that opened up in the Northern Hudson Valley this weekend. But is it a slap in the face to the Mid Hudson Valley?
With the huge, global publicity received by the Walkway Over the Hudson, other communities up and down the Hudson River have been looking for ways to capitalize on the pedestrian bridge's success by coming up with their own tourist destinations. Albany announced last year that they would be converting an old highway exit ramp into a park called the Albany Skyway. And another project called the Hudson River Skywalk just opened connecting Hudson and Catskill.
There was lots of pomp and circumstance over the official opening ceremony this weekend of the Hudson River Skywalk, which cost $11 million and is being touted as a "scenic walkway" that offers "sweeping views of the Hudson River valley." Does that description seem a bit familiar?
Forgive me if I sound a little bitter, but this blatant attempt to capitalize on our own Walkway Over the Hudson is a bit insulting. First of all, the Hudson River Skywalk is not a standalone bridge that was built across the river. It's actually just a sidewalk on the Rip Van Winkle bridge. We could just as easily call the sidewalks on the Mid Hudson or Newburgh Beacon bridges "skywalks." Sure, they offer spectacular views, but they're not the Walkway Over the Hudson.
Furthermore, the use of the name "Skywalk" makes one think that they're going to be walking high above the clouds. The term was originated by a tourist destination in the Grand Canyon that allows visitors to walk across a glass bridge hovering 720 feet above the canyon floor. At 145 feet, the Rip Van Winkle bridge is not in the "sky," and certainly doesn't match the 212-foot height of the Walkway Over the Hudson.
Look, I'm all for creating more parks, rail trails, walkways and places to enjoy the beauty of the Hudson River. And I'm really happy that they decided to fix the sidewalk on the Rip Van Winkle, take advantage of the great view and connect the historic sites in the upper Hudson Valley. But calling this path and the ramp in Albany "skywalks" is a bit deceiving and will only create confusion for tourists. Visitors unfamiliar with the area are sure to be confused by advertisements for a "Hudson River Skywalk" thinking that it's the incredible Walkway Over the Hudson they've read about or seen in news stories across the world.
The Hudson River Skywalk should be called the "Hudson River School Walk" since its main purpose is to connect two historic homes of famed Hudson Valley School painters. And that ramp in Albany? It's more similar to the Highline in New York City than the Walkway Over the Hudson. Perhaps that's a better way to market it than trying to siphon visitors away from the Walkway.
At the end of the day, it's great that there are so many incredible parks, trails and public spaces being created in New York. But let's make sure they complement the already successful Walkway Over the Hudson instead of attempting to steal its thunder.
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