The Palisades | Hudson River School

The Hudson River: The Palisades

The Palisades are a line of steep cliffs along the west side of the lower Hudson River in northeastern New Jersey and southern New York. The cliffs are some of New York’s most geologically unique features, rising nearly vertically from the river to a height of over 500 feet. The Palisades are one of the most distinct and recognizable geological features near New York City. Sanford Robinson Gifford, Jasper Frances Cropsey, and George Inness are but a few of the artists who depicted the iconic geological landmark.

The Palisades appeared on the first European map of the New World, created by the cartographer Gerardus Mercator in 1541, based on a description by Giovanni da Verrazano, who suggested that the cliffs looked like a “fence of stakes.”

During the nineteenth century, the cliffs were widely quarried for railroad ballast. That, and other industrial practices along the Hudson River, led to local preservation efforts and sparked some of the nation’s first prolonged debates about the preservation of the American landscape.

George Inness (1825–1894) Palisades on the Hudson
Oil on canvas, 20 1/8 x 30 1/8 inches
Signed lower right: G. Inness


George Herbert McCord (1848–1909) Palisades, 1874
Oil on canvas, 20 1/16 x 30 1/16 inches
Signed and dated lower right: Herbert McCord 1874

Images courtesy of Questroyal Fine Art, LLC