On March 1, in recognition of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced plans for a new state park that will cover more than 500 acres of former industrial property along the Hudson River shoreline in Ulster County. The park, a spokesperson noted in a press release provided to Travel + Leisure, will be named after the African American abolitionist and suffragist Sojourner Truth.
“It is fitting such a magnificent property, with its cliffs and Hudson shoreline, bears the name of a remarkable woman who started life right here in Ulster County,” Governor Hochul said in a statement, noting that this will be the first state park in the city of Kingston, as well as the first new state park to open since 2019. “New York is committed to reflecting the diverse stories of its people, such as Sojourner Truth and her message of freedom and equality, that have influenced our state’s inspiring history.”
Truth, who was born enslaved in Ulster County, freed herself in 1826. She then traveled as an itinerant preacher, speaking about the inequities endured by people of color and women. Along the way, she became one of the nation’s leading voices for abolition and suffrage, and continues to be an inspirational figure today.
In August 2020, State Parks installed a statue of Truth at the western entrance of the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park in Highland, Ulster County, and dedicated it to the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. But that was just the beginning.
State Parks then partnered with the not-for-profit environmental group Scenic Hudson to identify and protect land for the new park that had been slated for large-scale private development, according to the statement. Funding for the $13.5 million purchase was provided through the state Environmental Protection Fund.
“State Parks is proud to name our newest park in honor of Sojourner Truth, an early prominent voice in New York and later the nation for abolition and women’s rights,” State Parks commissioner Erik Kulleseid said. “In addition to bringing her story to visitors, this park also will allow for interpretation of the site’s industrial and indigenous history and will help protect the ecology of the Hudson River. The new park will support the ongoing economic revitalization of Kingston and the regional recreational tourism economy. It will benefit the quality of life for residents throughout the year, as well as provide a major new Hudson Valley attraction for users of the Empire State Trail.”
State Parks will make immediate improvements, including installing limited parking and hiking trails to provide access by this spring, at which point the land will open to the public.
“After years of sitting neglected, this unique urban property will, for the first time, be open for Kingston residents to access its breathtaking views, incredible trails, and beautiful Hudson River waterfront,” Kingston Mayor Steve Noble said. “We are looking forward to working with all of our partners to make this a world-class park that is accessible to each and every resident of Kingston and our surrounding communities.”
In addition to sharing Sojourner’s story, the park will also help share the history of the Esopus tribe of the Lenape, who inhabited the area until the 1600s when they were displaced by European colonists. According to a spokesperson for the park, the site will allow for the “interpretation of industrial history, geology, the resilience of our natural environment, and the significant role of the Hudson Valley in the development of New York State and the nation.”
Stay tuned for park developments and opening information on the New York State website.