Governor David A. Paterson today announced that First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson has been named Honorary Chair of the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Celebration. Next year, 2009, marks the 400th anniversaries of the voyage of English Captain Henry Hudson, who led the first European expedition to sail up the river that now bears his name, and the voyage of Frenchman Samuel de Champlain, the first to discover the namesake lake. To celebrate these simultaneous 400th anniversaries – as well as the 200th anniversary of Robert Fulton’s maiden steamboat journey up the Hudson River – New York State is planning a yearlong series of events, programs and projects that highlight the discovery of New York, celebrating the State’s Dutch, French and English roots and heritage.
“This is a momentous occasion in our State’s history,” said First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson. “I am so proud to be able to serve this important role as ambassador for the 400th anniversaries of the exploration of our historic Hudson River and Lake Champlain, celebrating our rich history and our embrace of diversity, tolerance and innovation. Perhaps most importantly, we are utilizing the occasion to focus attention on the most important legacy of all — environmental and economic sustainability starting with the next 100 years.”
New York’s First Lady will lend her support to several projects across the State, including the “Walkway Over the Hudson” in Poughkeepsie that will transform the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge into a spectacular park in the sky, the longest elevated walkway in the world. On Lake Champlain, the newly refurbished Crown Point Lighthouse will shine again over the stabilized ruins of two nearby forts – Crown Point and St. Frederic – that symbolize the region’s English and French heritage. And Governor’s Island, the site of one of New York’s first Dutch settlements and a strategic 19th-century coastal fortification, will soon allow visitors to have access to the entire perimeter promenade for the first time, and will create a picnic area with unparalleled views of the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor, and the Manhattan skyline.
Other Quadricentennial events include the valley-wide event “River Day” celebrating 400 years of boats, ships and the Hudson River; the Quadricentennial Sustainability Expo at the American Museum of Natural History, the International Commemorative Stamp Expo at the Empire State Plaza – featuring the loan of the original Henry Hudson 1909 stamp from the National Museum, the New York Medal of Discovery-the first annual medal from the Governor to a distinguished New Yorker, the “400 Years of History” conference at Marist College, and a special visit from the Dutch Royal Family.
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer said: “This event provides a golden opportunity to celebrate the history of New York State and three of the giants who defined it for the last four hundred years. Over this past year, I have worked tirelessly for the Quadricentennial to ensure the celebration provides a big boost for our tourism economy. I know with Michelle Paterson as the Honorary Chair of the Quadricentennial we can only expect even greater success.”
U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said: “First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson is an excellent choice to chair the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial celebrations. Under her leadership, this celebration of New York’s rich past will be a truly historic success.”
U.S. Congressman Maurice Hinchey said: “The Quadricentennial celebrations presents New Yorkers with so many exciting ways to celebrate and learn about the extraordinary historical events that occurred right here in our own backyard several centuries years ago. I am very pleased that First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson will be taking on such an important leadership role that will ensure we fulfill the cultural, educational, and economic potential that these upcoming events have for our State.”
Hugo Gajus Scheltema, Consul General of the Netherlands, said: “We are thrilled that the First Lady is Honorary Chair for the Quadricentennial Celebration. We look forward to working together for next year’s events. From our side we have set up a number of festivities in the framework of the Quadricentiennial and expect several Dutch dignitaries to visit New York State next year, including members of the royal family.”
Deputy Secretary for the Environment Judith Enck said: “We are honored to have First Lady Michele Paige Paterson integrally involved in commemorating the 400th anniversary of our magnificent Lake Champlain and Hudson River. The Hudson River and Lake Champlain are not only rich parts of our past but also are key to our future. In the upcoming Quadricentennial year we will celebrate history while stepping up our efforts to reduce water pollution and to advance policies that protect the shorelines of these vitally important water bodies. Having the First Lady in this leadership position signals how important this commemoration is for our great State.”
Joan Davidson, Chairperson of the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commission (HFCQ), said: “The Commission is inspired by Governor Paterson’s vision of a revitalized Hudson River Corridor and the Champlain Valley as a strong economic engine for New York City and State. We are delighted and honored that New York’s First Lady, Michelle Paige Paterson, has agreed to serve as Honorary Chair of the Commission and we look forward to working with her toward next year’s great events.”
Tara Sullivan, Executive Director of the NYS HFCQ, said: “New York’s communities, historic and environmental organizations, and State agencies have worked this past year to craft the 2009 plan for celebrating our past and planning for our future. New York’s First Lady will bring the prestige and gravitas to usher in this plan on the eve of the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial!”
For more information on the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Celebration, visit: www.ExploreNY400.com.