On Tuesday October 26, 2021, Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin opened the new East Gate Plaza for The Walkway Over The Hudson. Located just outside the Poughkeepsie entrance, the new gathering space doubles in space atop the Washington Street Stairs and provides an ideal location for community events.
The $2 million project was funded through State Parks Capital Funds, the Environmental Protection Fund and support from the Friends of Walkway.
The Walkway Over The Hudson is the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge. Spanning more than 1.28 miles of a former railroad bridge, it offers views of the Hudson Valley. The Walkway draws in 600,000 visitors annually and more than 6.2 million people have visited since the opening in 2009.
“The Walkway Over the Hudson has long been a major attraction for both residents and visitors alike. and these improvements will ensure that the Walkway can play host to even larger community events, providing a unique space for neighbors to come together and take in some of the best the Hudson Valley has to offer,” said Sen. Sue Serino, R-Hyde Park.
“The new East Gate Plaza in Poughkeepsie will serve as a great resource for showcasing local products and enhancing the overall Walkway visitor experience,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said. ”The remarkable scenery of the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park continues to attract individuals and families from all over and the new plaza will further highlight the Hudson Valley as a tourist destination.”
The renovated East Gate Plaza includes a walk-in space for visitors to purchase Walkway merchandise, improved access to snacks and beverages. The Plaza also includes a covered pavilion with audio and visual capabilities to support events, tours, and special programs. Part of the project is on property that State parks acquired through the support of the not-for-profit Open Space Institute.
Open Space Institute Vice President for Parks and Stewardship Peter Karis said, “[We are] proud that our efforts to expand the Walkway footprint set the stage for the creation of the new East Gate Plaza.
“The Walkway Over the Hudson State Park is an ideal destination to enjoy the Hudson Valley’s scenic beauty and fascinating history – and our administration is proud to invest in making the park even more inviting for healthy outdoor activities and fun events,” Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin said. “Outdoor recreation is a significant economic driver for our state, and projects like this help to ensure the long-term vitality of Poughkeepsie and surrounding communities.”
Some extra benefits of the project include more seating, extra bike racks, landscaping, and a heat pump for heating, cooling and lighting. The decaying retaining wall from the bridge’s original construction in the 1880s will be replaced and the historic bridge post will be repurposed into the railing system.
“These improvements at the Walkway will encourage even more people to explore this amazing place and allow them to better connect with the park and surrounding community,” said State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid.
The Walkway has proven to be an essential part of the community and with these improvements it will continue to do so.