According to Ian H. Giddy’s The Hudson River water Trail Guide, “the Algonquins who met Hudson’s party called the river Shatemuc, while the Mohican tribe called it Muhheakunnuk.”
“Hudson renamed it Great River of the Mountains. It is shown as the Grande Rivier, with great precipices, on a world map dated 1541 by the famous map-maker Mercator. Before the British gave the river its present name, it was known simply as the North River.”
Giddy further writes:
“Fully one-third of the American Revolution’s battles were fought along its shores. You might recall that Benedict Arnold’s treachery was his attempt to surrender West Point, the revolutionaries’ chief stronghold, to the British, who wished to control the river in order to cut the rebelling colonies in two.” (To learn more about the Hudson River and boating on its waters, contact www.hrwa.org)
While most history points toward Henry Hudson as the first European to explore the area, the reality is that eighty-five years earlier, an Italian explorer named Giovanni da Verrazzano arrived to claim that title. He first landed in the area known today as Cape Fear, North Carolina, and made discoveries from Florida to Newfoundland. Among his many discoveries: the area known today as New York Harbor. In fact the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge which connects Brooklyn to Staten Island was named because historians believe his ship once anchored there. None of his writings indicate that he ventured far enough into New York Harbor to discover the river. While most of Giovanni da Verrazzano’s discoveries have long since been renamed, he is a tribute to the Italian spirit of adventure and discovery that endures to this day.
Giovanni da Verrazzano