The Beauty of the Palisades Needs to Remain

29 Sep

Although I no longer live in New Jersey, in my heart I carry a love for the city I grew up in, North Bergen, and the beautiful view of the Hudson River and New York City I had every day from the Palisades. I was so lucky to grow up just a few houses in from Boulevard East and the Palisades, just a block away from Hudson County Park, now known as James Braddock Park.

But over the last ten years, I have noticed a terrible change in my town and the areas along the Palisades. Each year more and more of the solid rock has been carved by giant machines to make way for more businesses and apartment buildings springing up at the bottom of the Palisades along River Road. They are destroying this natural beauty. Destroying rock that has stood for centuries.

As they destroy the cliffs, they often build high-rise buildings that block the views of people who have lived on the top of the Palisades. They block the view of people who want to walk and see the view. They are destroying such a lovely sight.

It did not start just ten years ago. But I have noticed an increase in destruction over the past ten years.

When I was a child, River Road was a small two-lane street that meandered along the bottom of the Palisades and looked out over the Hudson River. It is now a four-lane thoroughfare in many places. And the view of the River is gone, blocked by apartments that have been built on landfill. I know that people need places to live. So I am not against homes being built. But I wish that more green and open spaces were left for people to enjoy.

There are organizations that have sprung up to save the Palisades, but in typical New Jersey fashion, many of the politicians and the planning boards are not listening. They only see the opportunity of more stores and more homes and so more tax income.   All the time they are damaging what makes New Jersey so beautiful and so popular, the Palisades.

Growing up near the park and the boulevard gave my siblings, friends and I lots of opportunity to climb down the cliffs. Of course our parents did not want us to do this. But the thrill called. The wall along Boulevard East was not in great repair, so we were able to slip through breaks in the wall and go down. And some places had intentional gaps.

Palisades, Suicide bridge May 2013

Palisades, Suicide bridge May 2013

See how much of the mountain has been carved away from the May photo.

See how much of the mountain has been carved away from the May photo.

We lived very close to Suicide Bridge. The view from the bridge is magnificent. We often went for a short walk to look over the top.

When I crossed the boundary and scampered through the wall, I stayed near the top. Sitting on boulders, walking along old terraced areas. But I have found out that my sister and her friends would often climb down along the terraced hill almost to the bottom. They would play among old stone walls and a stone staircase. I was shocked to hear that, as that was a definite “NO,” in our parent’s view. She would have been in big trouble if my parents knew!

Me early 1970s in HC Park

Early 1970s, I am sitting on my favorite boulders.

I loved just to go through the wall and just sit on the boulders and look over to New York City. It was and still is a wonderful view.   From here we watch the World Trade Towers, the Twin Towers go up; we saw the famous black outs of 1965 and 1977; we watched fireworks from the Palisades. They were such a part of our lives.

Some days I would just sit and watch the traffic across the River, thinking about how long it might take my Dad to get home from work. When I close my eyes I still see that wonderful view.

I still enjoy the drive along the Palisades Interstate Parkway (PIP).  And I will always remember stopping at one of the overlook sites to see the Hudson River, the Palisades and New York.

The Palisades are one of New Jersey’s and nature’s loveliest cliffs.I hope those who still live in North Bergen and other cities along the Hudson and throughout New Jersey would keep working to keep the Palisades available to all and not destroyed by more developers. I know there are many who are doing this in an effort from having large corporate offices be built on pristine land.  And those of us who moved away need to join our voices to save the cliffs that provided us so much beauty.


2 Responses to “The Beauty of the Palisades Needs to Remain”

  1. Sal Marino September 29, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    I too, have those great memories of growing up along the Palisades. I used to sit in my high school classroom looking out over New York City and daydream. Now all I have are the memories and I have seen the natural beauty being stripped away for the sake of the almighty dollar. There are no politicians left to save this historic treasure.

    • zicharon September 29, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

      I hope the grassroots efforts will make the politicians change their minds. I can be hopeful.

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