Jump to content

Tappan Zee

Coordinates: 41°00′47.20″N 73°53′28.81″W / 41.0131111°N 73.8913361°W / 41.0131111; -73.8913361
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tappan Zee
Northern Tappan Zee
EtymologyTuphanne, a Lenape term thought to mean "cold water",[1] and zee, Dutch for Sea
CountryUnited States
StateNew York
Physical characteristics
SourceHudson River, by way of Haverstraw Bay
 • locationCroton-on-Hudson, New York
 • coordinates41°10′03.64″N 73°53′54.65″W / 41.1676778°N 73.8985139°W / 41.1676778; -73.8985139
 • elevation0 ft (0 m)
MouthNorth River (Lower Hudson)
 • location
Dobbs Ferry, New York
 • coordinates
41°00′47.20″N 73°53′28.81″W / 41.0131111°N 73.8913361°W / 41.0131111; -73.8913361
 • elevation
0 ft (0 m)
Length10.5 mi (16.9 km), North-South
Basin features
 • leftCroton River, Pocantico River
 • rightSparkill Creek
NOAA Nav Chart12343[2]

The Tappan Zee (/ˌtæpən ˈz/; also Tappan Sea or Tappaan Zee) is a natural widening of the Hudson River, about 3 miles (4.8 km) across at its widest, in southeastern New York. It stretches about 10 miles (16 km) along the boundary between Rockland and Westchester counties, downstream from Croton Point to Irvington. It derives its name from the Tappan people of the Lenape, and the Dutch word zee [zeː], meaning a sea.[3]

Flanked to the west by high steep bluffs of the Palisades, it forms something of a natural lake on the Hudson about 10 miles (16 km) north of Manhattan. Communities along the Tappan Zee include Nyack on the western side as well as Ossining and Tarrytown on the eastern side. It was formerly crossed by the Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge, opened in 1955 and about 3.1 miles (5.0 km) long, connecting Nyack and Tarrytown. Today, it is crossed by the new Tappan Zee Bridge (officially the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge), which opened in 2017 (north or westbound span) and 2018 (south or eastbound span) at about the same length as the old bridge.

On September 14, 1609, the explorer Henry Hudson entered the Tappan Zee while sailing upstream from New York Harbor. At first, Hudson believed the widening of the river indicated that he had found the Northwest Passage. He proceeded upstream as far as present-day Troy before concluding that no such strait existed there.

Francis Augustus Silva:The Hudson at the Tappan Zee, 1876. Oil on canvas. Brooklyn Museum

The Tappan Zee is mentioned several times in Washington Irving's famous short story, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." The tale is set in the vicinity of Tarrytown, in the area near Irving's own home at Sunnyside. In Frederik Pohl's 1977 Hugo award-winning novel Gateway, the main character Robinette Broadhead has "a summer apartment overlooking the Tappan Sea and The Palisades Dam." Pohl lived in the area while writing the book. Jazz pianist Bob James named one of the tracks from his 1977 album BJ4, in addition to his record label he founded, after the Tappan Zee.

See also



  1. ^ Borough of Old Tappan – History of Old Tappan. Accessed July 15, 2013.
  2. ^ NOAA Navigational Chart #12343, Hudson River: New York to Wappinger Creek. 19th Edition, corrected though Oct-05. Available as a NOAA Raster Navigational Chart at the NOAA Office of Coast Survey RNC Downloads website.
  3. ^ Melvin, Tessa. "If You're Thinking of Living In/Tarrytown; Rich History, Picturesque River Setting", The New York Times, August 21, 1994. Accessed December 30, 2007. "The Dutch called this point, the river's widest, the Tappan Zee — Tappan probably for a group of Indians and Zee meaning "sea" in Dutch."

Media related to Tappan Zee at Wikimedia Commons