In 1968, as part of a tour of national sites of historic and scenic significance, First Lady Lady Bird Johnson toured the Hudson River. Speaking with state officials, reviewing plans for riverside parks, and urging historic preservation of historic mansions along the Hudson, Lady Bird didn't make it much farther north than Tarrytown, but her appraisal of the Hudson River was part of a larger effort at preserving the unique scenic beauty of America while also conserving thousands of acres and protecting undeveloped areas. You can see the coverage of the First Lady's tour of the lower Hudson River (aboard the Circle Line XI) below.
On this trip in May of 1968, the First Lady dedicated the newly opened American Museum of Immigration at the Statue of Liberty, meets Governor Rockefeller and NYC Mayor John Lindsay and their wives before boarding the Circle Line XI to travel up the Hudson to Tarrytown, admiring the Palisades and learning about plans a new park planned for Harlem River, funded in part by a federal grant. Lawrence Rockefeller accompanied Lady Bird Johnson on the trip, explaining conservation and preservation efforts in the state. She learns about waterfront mansions like Lyndhurst, then lands at Tarrytown and visits Sunnyside, Sleepy Hollow cemetery, Van Cortlandt Manor, interacting with costumed reenactors, and finally visiting Boscobel.
Lady Bird was instrumental in a number of important pieces of legislation. The Johnson Administration, under Lady Bird's urging, became one of the most conservationist presidencies since Theodore Roosevelt. You can learn more about the impact of her environmental work in the short documentary film below.
She is credited with introducing or influencing the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964, the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, and the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. In total, over 200 environmental laws were passed during Lyndon B. Johnson's tenure as president, many of them attributed directly to Lady Bird Johnson. To learn more about Lady Bird and her conservation efforts, visit www.ladybirdjohnson.org.
Today, many of the historic sites Lady Bird visited in 1968 have been saved and restored and you can visit them today. And the Hudson River Valley is now a National Heritage Area. To learn more about its many historic sites and scenic beauty, visit www.hudsonrivervalley.com.
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This blog is written by Hudson River Maritime Museum staff, volunteers and guest contributors.
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