COLUMBIA COUNTY, NEW YORK
By Captain Franklin Ellis123
This is a public ground, much frequented for the purpose which its name indicates, by the people of Hudson, who have always held it in high and deserved estimation as a place of popular resort.
It is a grassed and graded spot of about one and a half acres, upon the summit of the high promontory which rises from the river-bank, opposite the foot of Warren street, and is the western end of the ridge on which the city is built.
It has been in use as a public walk or promenade nearly or quite as long as Hudson has been a city. On the 9th of March, 1795, the proprietors resolved by vote "that the certain piece of land known by the name of the Parade or Mall, in front of Main street, and on the bank fronting the river, be granted to the common council forever, as a public walk or Mall, and for no other purpose whatever;" by which it is made sure that it had been in use as a promenade ground for a considerable time before 1795, long enough to have acquired the name mentioned in the resolution above quoted.
After the hill was donated to the city (but we have been unable to ascertain how long after that time) there was built upon it a house of octagonal shape, two stories high, the upper one being used as a lookout or observatory, and the lower one as a refreshment-room, which latter was never a desirable addition to the "attractions" of the place. Upon the erection of this structure the "Mall" received the name of "Round-House Hill," and continued to be so known until about 1835, when the ground was improved by the erection of a fence, the laying out and grading of walks, and the removal of the "round-house;" after which the name, being inappropriate as well as inelegant, was dropped, and, after some discussion and the suggestion of several high-sounding names (among which was "Paradise Hill"), that of "Parade Hill" was adopted, and continued in use for many years, but has now been generally discarded for the more appropriate one by which the hill is known at the present time.
During the past summer (1878) the ground has been improved and placed in the best condition. The walks have been re-graded and graveled, the grass-plats newly sodded, and a large number of comfortable seats placed in the proper positions. Along the entire river-front and southern end there has been completed a solid wall, commencing low enough to secure a firm foundation, and rising to a level with the grade, above which it is surmounted by a strong and handsome iron fence. When we approach the city by the river from the south, this fence is not at first seen, but the hill, standing boldly out to the river, with its towering flag-staff, and its steep escarpment crowned by the rampart-like wall, looks much like a fortification, and forms one of the most salient features in the city's outline.
The finished landscapes of Mount Merino on the one hand, and of Stockport upon the other, with the shining river between and beyond them, the village of Athens in front, and the fields and woods and slopes of Greene county stretching away to the base of the Catskills, whose summits stand in dark grandeur against the sky,--all these, which are visible from a single point on Promenade hill, form a picture which is rarely equaled, even among the famed scenery of the Hudson river.