2002-04-18 / Arts & Entertainment

Moyers Explores Vital History Of "America’s River"

Moyers Explores Vital History Of "America’s River"

Bill Moyers explores the Hudson River aboard the Half Moon in the PBS documentary about the impact the waterway has had on history, culture and the environment. 				    cDon PerdueBill Moyers explores the Hudson River aboard the Half Moon in the PBS documentary about the impact the waterway has had on history, culture and the environment. cDon Perdue

Although only 315 miles long and tucked away in the Northeast corner of the nation, the Hudson River has been called America’s river. That’s because it courses more intensely through the heart of American history, commerce, and culture than perhaps any other river. The strategic key to the American Revolution, a vital transportation artery for a fledgling nation, and an enduring source of spiritual and artistic inspiration, the Hudson River has also been the victim of brutal abuse and a blazing battleground between public and private interests. The catalyst for the conservation movement of the 19th century and the environmental movement of the 20th century, the Hudson River is a paradigm for the ceaseless conflict between America’s love of nature and its restless growth.

In a four-hour, two-part documentary, journalist Bill Moyers travels from New York Harbor to the Adirondack Forest to explore the dramatic history, complex ecology, profound natural beauty, and far-reaching legacy of what has been called "America’s most beautiful, messed-up and surprising piece of water."

America’s First River: Bill Moyers On The Hudson, premieres on April 23 and 24 at 9:00 p.m. (ET) on PBS.

The Hudson is formed by saltwater currents from the Atlantic Ocean colliding with fresh water from the Adirondack Mountains. Native Americans called it Muhheakkunnuk, which means the river that flows both ways. And in the four centuries since its namesake, Henry Hudson, sailed up the river looking for the mythic Northwest Passage, the Hudson has lived up to the paradox of its name. Born as a collection of droplets in the pristine forests of upstate New York and becoming a mighty channel that meets the sea alongside one of the world’s greatest cities, the Hudson is a both a fragile natural treasure and a robust site for development and commerce.

A waterway of ethereal beauty and vast commercial utility, the Hudson has been at some times a precious medium for communing with nature and at others a convenient sewer for industrial waste. Through interviews some of have a unique relationship with the river, Moyers reports on how colliding agendas have led the Hudson through a history as serpentine as its own course through the Catskills.

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