Archive for February, 2019

Hey Pig!

Posted in Uncategorized on February 5, 2019 by Pat Regan

What a glorious day to break in the Chinese New Year. Year of the Pig! It was an unusually warm day in February. The Department of Education has recently made the Chinese New Year a holiday for schools in NYC, making this teacher happy. When I left for work last week it was 3 degrees outside. Really! 3 degrees! This day the sun greeted the lunar new year and the temperature broke 60.

I hopped on the bike and went to look for a place that I read about. It was once called Cliff Dale Manor. It now lies in ruins along the Palisades Cliffs. To get there I crossed the GWB and headed north on the Palisades Pkwy. I first pulled over at the Rockefeller Lookout. In the background on the upper right, you can see the northernmost tip of Manhattan as the Harlem River branches off from the Hudson.

As you look from this point you can see the skyscrapers of the city fade into the southern sky. Can you imagine: That’s what Sully was staring down when he landed the plane.

The cliffs here are serious. It’s a long way down. Large sheets of ice move along the currents of the Hudson River far below.

I moved on to the next lookout. It’s called Alpine Lookout. From what I read, I can walk north through the woods between the parkway and the cliffs and I will find the ruins of the old Cliff Dale Manor. I walked along a spongey, freshly thawed path following the footsteps of shoes, paws, and hooves. After a little less than a mile, I saw the gray walls of the old home in the background.

Here is how it used to look.

The mansion belonged to George A. Zabriskie. He made a name for himself in the flour business, working for Pillsbury flour mills. The fifteen-room manor house called Cliff Dale was built in 1911. Constructed of native stone on a 25-acre estate high atop the cliffs of the Palisades, this was just one of many mansions that used to line “Millionaire’s Row.” Today all that remains of those stately mansions are some foundations, with the exception of Cliff Dale. Here the two-story ruins of the foundation and some surrounding landscaping still exist.

The rest of this place was torn down in 1939. John D. Rockefeller Jr. bought many of the old mansions along the Palisades and gave them back to the state on condition that they demolished them and allow the area to return to its natural state.

Below is a look between the two existing levels.

These are the only interior stairs that remain.

The crumbling walls are covered with graffiti on each level.

The largest existing wall has 4 framed windows.

The same 4 windows from above can be seen in the lowest part of the house below.

At the bottom left in the photo above are the stairs I am sitting on in the photo below.

The old basement is filled with rubble making it an uncomfortable crawl space.

Above that crawl space is some of the original tiled floor.

You’d better watch your step as you walk around this level as there are ankle snapping craters all around. Some more obvious than others.

From the top level, you can see where a column once stood overlooking the Hudson River.

Other columns can be found scattered around the property.

I stuck my camera down one of those holes. You can see the room filled with graffiti through the window.

I’d like to return and explore some more. Like a dope, I didn’t bring any water. I thought about going down the ravine where there may be more to see, but I figured I’d better get back to the bike and continue the journey.

Through the ruins, up the curved steps to the spongey path and back to the bike.

After crossing the GWB back into the city I went North instead of my usual route back downtown. I rode to the northernmost tip of Manhattan that I pointed out previously along the Harlem River.

The big “C” represents Columbia University.

Through the archway of that bridge are the cliffs in NJ where I had parked in the first photo at Rockefeller Lookout.

This area of Manhattan is known as Inwood. Below is the Dyckman Farmhouse. The Dyckman family lived at this location before the Revolutionary War. They fled during the war and the British burned down their home. They returned after the war and built this house in the early 1780s. Unfortunately, the house was closed to the public today.

Behind the house is the replica of a Hessian hut as they would have built while assisting the British during the Revolutionary War. There was a Hessian soldier encampment of more than 60 huts like this on the Dyckman Farm during the British occupation.

Here is how it looked inside through the dark screened window.

I rode downtown on Riverside Drive where I passed Grant’s Tomb.

As I neared home the Winter’s sun had dropped, peeking through an architectural window made by an overhanging building. Pretty cool!

Happy New Year Piggies!