Palisades Palaver: My Twitter Debate on LG with Kimmelman, Goldberger, Davidson, Others

Hudson Terrace, one of two thoroughfares between LG construction site and Palisades Interstate Park
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

As someone who lives on the “wrong” side of the Hudson River, I’ve been bemused by the specious arguments about how the planned new LG Electronics headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, will violate the Palisades’ “pristine tree line” (Bonnie Burnham, president of the World Monuments Fund, in the Huffington Post), will “for the first time violate the unspoiled ridgeline” (Protect the Palisades) and will disrupt a “landscape of unbroken, natural beauty” (Rose Harvey, New York State’s parks commissioner).

The last quote was published in Michael Kimmelman‘s opinion piece in his “Critic’s Notebook” for the NY Times, wherein he implied that consumers should boycott LG products because its construction plans are “a public shame.”

Let me make clear that as someone who lives atop the Palisades (in highrise-strewn Fort Lee), I’m against rampant development further north, where relatively little is visible above the treeline from across the river. As CultureGrrl readers know, I often side with preservationists.

That said, I am appalled by the false arguments being used to incite anti-LG hysteria. I can only suppose that the incensed defenders of the purportedly unspoiled beauty of the Palisades north of the George Washington Bridge (where I sometimes hike) haven’t actually set eyes on them.

Had they peered at the area north of the George Washington Bridge from across the Hudson River in Manhattan, here’s what they would have seen:

Structures above treeline of the Palisades: St. Peter’s University, left; cell tower, right
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

More structures above the Palisades treeline: New 47-story apartment building (actually south of George Washington Bridge but appearing, from across the river, to be north); other apartment buildings to the right.

When it comes to preserving the “pristine Palisades,” the boat has already sailed. Here are some of the buildings visible on or above the Palisades that you can see from Manhattan (as well as a view of the Metropolitan Museum’s Cloisters, as seen from one of the existing “offenders”):

St. Peter’s University, directly across the Hudson River from Metropolitan Museum’s Cloisters
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

The view of the Cloisters in Manhattan (center) as seen from St. Peter’s University
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

Also visible from Manhattan: this structure adjacent to St. Peter’s University
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

Visible from Manhattan: apartment house on Hudson Terrace
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

Visible from Manhattan: another apartment house on Hudson Terrace
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

LG’s new construction will be located on a very commercial strip, separated from the Palisades Interstate Park by two thoroughfares, including Hudson Terrace (seen in top photo) and the very busy Palisades Parkway, connecting New Jersey with New York. LG went through all the required approval processes to get permission to erect its new facility, obtaining the needed variances from Englewood Cliffs, which embraced the project for its economic benefits.

That said, the strong backlash from preservationists and politicians will probably cause the town to think twice before greenlighting another such project. To that extent, the preservationists may have made headway.

Starting yesterday and continuing today, I got embroiled in a Twitter debate with Michael Kimmelman, Paul Goldberger of Vanity Fair magazine, Justin Davidson of New York magazine, and a couple of others who chimed in.

Here, for what it’s worth, is what we said: