Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis



First Advisor

Lisle S. Mitchell



Research in the field of recreation geography is plentiful and continues to grow at a rapid rate. Research has concentrated on seaside resorts, urban areas, national parks, and ecotourism. One area of research that has been neglected is recreation in urban and suburban riverine environments. This study looks at recreational access to the Hudson River in Westchester County, New York.

Two fundamental research questions were examined: 1) how has the number of recreational sites providing access to the river changed between 1900 and the present; and 2) how has the amount of land devoted to these sites changed in that same time period? For the purposes of this study, a recreational site was defined as a park or historic site that abuts or has a view of the Hudson River.

The research of this study was designed around the concept of access. Four separate approaches were used to study access to the Hudson in Westchester County: investigate the background of 13 river towns; study waterfront recreation use in those towns; determine the number of recreational sites and acreage added over the study period; and scrutinize the plans of the 13 towns and the county as a whole. The data collected demonstrates two periods of rapid growth in recreational sites (i.e., 1960-1979 and 2000-2010) and in the addition of recreational acreage (i.e., 1920-1939 and 1960-1979). The first period of growth in sites coincides with the improvement in water quality in the Hudson River coupled with a climate of environmental awareness; the latter increase in sites corresponds with a period when governments at all levels began encouraging increased access to the Hudson. The first period of increased acreage occurred during Westchester's impressive acquisition of park land during the early 1920s; the second coincides with the aforementioned improvement in water quality and the climate of environmental awareness.

In conclusion, both research questions are answered in the affirmative based on the quantitative and qualitative evidence presented in the study.