by Jennifer Rothschild
In 1819, John Green built the house located at the end of Main Street, near the then Nyack Pier. In the 1800s, Hudson River sloops delivered wood for Green’s lumberyard to that pier.
Green built his house at an interesting time for the river landing. He and his neighbors, Peter and Tunis Smith, made a series of moves that harkened a great future for Nyack by envisioning Nyack as a seaport on the river. Other developments assisted Green’s vision: in 1807, Robert Fulton built the Clermont, the first commercial steamboat that traveled the Hudson River between Albany and New York City and, in 1817, construction began on the Erie Canal, which gave western states access to the Hudson River and those shipping possibilities.
Meanwhile, in the western part of Rockland County, industry flourished. Business owners desired a more dependable means of getting their goods to market than the long and difficult road to the Haverstraw landing, which was far from the city, froze too often in winter, and was not deep enough to accommodate fully- loaded ships at all stages of the tide.
Together with Suffern factory owners, the Smith brothers and Green worked to obtain a Legislative Act creating a turnpike linking Suffern to Nyack. In 1816, the New York Assembly passed the bill authorizing the Nyack Turnpike (now NY State Route 59). The proposed road would terminate at Green’s property on the river. Once the road was built, all that was needed was river transportation to deliver the manufactured goods.
In July 1826, Green was instrumental in forming the Nyack Steamboat Association. He served as its chairman and major investor, putting up the money to build the steamship, Orange, which was launched and started service in 1827. By 1830, The Orange provided steamboat service to and from Nyack. The steamboat transformed a fishing village into a thriving commercial center, thanks to the imagination, investment, and energy of John Green.
John Green also served as a trustee of the original Nyack Library, was a founder of the First Methodist Church in Nyack, and contributed significant funds towards the construction of the Old Stone Church (now the Old Stone Meeting House).
Jennifer Rothschild is a Trustee of the Historical Society of the Nyacks, and this article is published with their permission.