The Palisades, also called the New Jersey Palisades or the Hudson Palisades (some portions are also referred to as Bergen Hill), are a line of steep cliffs along the west side of the lower Hudson River in northeast New Jersey and southern New York in the United States. The cliffs stretch north from Jersey City approximately 20 mi (32 km) to near Nyack, New York. They rise nearly vertically from near the edge of the river, ranging in height between 350 ft (107 m) and 550 ft (168 m). The cliffs are among the most dramatic geologic features in the vicinity of New York City, forming a canyon of the Hudson north of Fort Lee, as well as providing a dramatic vista of the New York City skyline from the opposite bank of the Hudson.
The cliffs are the margin of a diabase sill
, formed approximately 200 million years ago at the close of the Triassic Period
by the intrusion of molten magma
upward into sandstone
. The molten material cooled and solidified before reaching the surface. Subsequent water erosion of the softer sandstone left behind the columnar structure of harder rock that exists today. The cliffs are approximately 300 ft (100 m) thick in sections and were probably originally 1,000 ft (300 m) high, approximately two to three times as high as they are today.
called the cliffs "We-awk-en", meaning "rocks that look like rows of trees" (Weehawken, New Jersey
, which sits at the top of the cliffs across from Manhattan
, takes its name from the Lenape word).
is derived from the same root as word pale
, ultimately from the Latin word palus
, meaning stake. From this comes the figurative meaning of "boundary".
In the 19th century, the cliffs were subject to widespread quarrying for railroad ballast, leading to local efforts to preserve the cliffs. A section of the cliffs north of Fort Lee were subsequently purchased by John D. Rockefeller, who donated them to the State for permanent preservation. The land is now a part of Palisades Interstate Park, a popular destination for hiking and other outdoor recreational activities, that also includes Harriman-Bear Mountain State Park, Minnewaska State Park Preserve and several other parks and historic sites in the region.
In June 1983, the Palisades were designated a National Natural Landmark by the National Parks Service.
The term cliffhanger was created on the Palisades, when the popular silent movie serial The Perils of Pauline used locations around Fort Lee, then a major movie capital.
Crossings of the Palisades
This list runs from south to north. The south end of the Palisades is subjective.
New Jersey/New York state line
- Marvel Comics supervillain The Owl had his base, "The Aerie", in the New Jersey Palisades.
- The New Jersey Palisades are referenced in the Thursday song "War All The Time". "Standing on the edge of the Palisades cliffs in the shadow of the skyline."
- The Palisades are referenced in the "Where's Johnny?" episode of The Sopranos, in which a disgruntled Tony Soprano suggests that his Uncle Junior, demented and prone to wandering off, can wander off the cliffs.
- The Palisades are referenced in a verse by rapper Ja Rule in the 2002 hit "Always on Time" featuring Ashanti: "And I'm just outside of Jersey, past the Palisades."
- Billy Joel references them in his song "Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)" from the album Turnstiles: "I've seen the lights go out on Broadway/I saw the Empire State laid low/And life went on beyond the Palisades."
Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams (a lower-Hudson Valley band) begins their song, "Alice in Space" with the lyrics, "Ridin' the Palisades up to her place..."