Almanac Weekly

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How the Hudson River Chain slowed British domination during the Revolutionary War

How the Hudson River Chain slowed British domination during the Revolutionary War

The Great Chain could be dismantled and pulled ashore in winter, when the Hudson wasn’t navigable anyway, to protect it from being smashed apart by tide-tossed icebergs. Its placement in the river could also be adjusted using a pulley system. Just downriver, a second barrier of wooden booms was floated, making it nearly impossible for a ship to get up enough momentum to break through the chain – although the notorious traitor Benedict Arnold had advised the British that they could, when he handed over the plans to the fortification at West Point. They never tried.

Beauty from your backyard: The most amazing Evening Star ever

Beauty from your backyard: The most amazing Evening Star ever

We are all finding new ways to have fun at home. Naturally and predictably, I’m recommending you step into your backyard and simply look up around dinnertime, just as darkness falls. So happens, this is a most extraordinary time to gaze at the heavens. Halfway up the western sky you’ll see an unbelievably bright “star.” This is of course the planet Venus, also known as the Evening Star.

Preservationists seek to restore Staatsburg Calvert Vaux mansion that prefigured Central Park

Preservationists seek to restore Staatsburg Calvert Vaux mansion that prefigured Central Park

The abandoned mansion is off the beaten path, seemingly stuck in a time when the Hudson Valley was a sleepy backwater. The Point, as it is known, is sequestered at the end of a winding road in a forested section of Mills-Norrie State Park, located in Staatsburg. It’s set at an angle on a high promontory of the Hudson River, which glimmers through the thick growth of trees. The windows are boarded up, the roof of the large stone portico at the entrance has half collapsed, the porch is gone and the bare lawn is surrounded by a utilitarian chain-link fence; yet the Gothic-style building, with its tall gables graced by carved verge boards, bay windows and squared-off, compact mass, exudes an echo of fairytale magic. Constructed of bluestone, whose soft, faded gray tones blend in with the site, the house has a cottagelike intimacy.

New York is waiving fees at all state parks

New York is waiving fees at all state parks

Here’s one happy truth that may help us all: Being on “lockdown” when the adversary is a microorganism that inhabits human hosts does not necessarily mean staying indoors all the time. We can take walks, so long as we stay more than six feet away from other people and avoid touching surfaces that get touched a lot. We can celebrate the upcoming Vernal Equinox, Arbor Day and Earth Day by hugging a tree; it won’t get sick.