Image 1: The Hudson River Palisades in Alpine, New Jersey.
Image 2: Highrise towers built atop the Palisades Cliffs in Fort Lee and Cliffside Park, New Jersey.
Image 3: The Hoboken Heights project under construction in Union City, New Jersey.
FBW | March 25, 2021
The Palisades Cliffs, facing the lower Hudson River, is our region’s most dramatic geological formation. The Palisades begin in Jersey City and span some twenty miles up to Nyack, New York. In Weehawken, the pillars of rock rise to 300 feet and gradually increase to 520 feet at the State Line Lookout just south of the New York-New Jersey border.
The earliest preservation efforts began in the late 1800s when groups, with the help of J. P. Morgan, closed down quarry operations in New Jersey. By 1900, the states of New York and New Jersey created the Palisades Interstate Park north of the George Washington Bridge which became a National Natural Landmark in 1983.
South of the Bridge, however, the Palisades has come under repeated assaults. One of the latest projects that is being built into the top edge of these cliffs is dubbed Hoboken Heights, an exclusive four-building, 55-unit luxury development currently under construction. Although the developers are apparently trying to cash in on the appeal of the Hoboken name, the 1300 Manhattan Avenue site is actually in Union City, New Jersey. The Hoboken Heights project is also being billed as an exclusive “gated community” set apart from its adjoining neighborhood.
Recently in North Bergen, part of the base of the Palisades was blasted away to make way for a commercial development that includes a Bank of America, a Walgreens and a Starbucks, all surrounded by surface parking. After blasting and hauling away truckloads of rock, the lower portion of the Palisades was covered with a faux-rock material.
The RPA’s (Regional Plan Association) 1929 Regional Plan called for the protection of land on top of the Palisades as “one of the most urgent and important needs in the Region.” Unfortunately, in the 1950s and 60s, New Jersey communities south of the George Washington Bridge, especially in Fort Lee and Cliffside Park allowed huge towers to be built lining the top of the Palisades. In response, the RPA dedicated a chapter of its 1960 Regional Plan to guidelines for protecting the Palisades and preventing this type of development.
National Natural Landmarks – Palisades of the Hudson is the best example of a thick diabase sill formation in the United States. Columnar jointing, an olivine zone and thermal metamorphic effects are attributes found in rare combination at this site. The glaciated crest provides impressive evidence of the Pleistocene glacier.