by Michele S. Byers, Executive Director, New Jersey Conservation Foundation
Which one doesn’t fit: The Palisades cliffs above the Hudson River, the City of Venice, the Sierra de Moeda mountains in Brazil, the island of Mozambique, rock cliffs in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, or a green oasis in the heart of developed Singapore? The answer is … they all fit!
All have been placed on the 2014 watch list of the World Monuments Fund, an organization devoted to saving important architectural and cultural heritage sites around the world.
Every two years, the World Monuments Fund announces the most endangered sites around the globe. The just-released watch list identifies 67 sites in 41 countries considered “at risk from the forces of nature and the impact of social, political and economic change.”
The Palisades in New Jersey – and the Cloisters Museum and Gardens in New York City, directly across the river – are among six American monuments on the list. The Palisades and Cloisters are considered one site, threatened by both political and economic forces.
LG Electronics proposes to build a new corporate headquarters in Englewood Cliffs that would rise above the tree line, tower over the cliffs and intrude upon a vista that has awed and inspired generations for centuries.
“Such construction would seriously affect one of the most unspoiled areas of the Hudson River, including treasured views from the Cloisters Museum and Gardens, and also have a negative environmental impact on the region,” the Fund said in a release. “It is hoped that inclusion on the Watch will support efforts to limit the height of such construction.”
LG is seeking to build a 143-foot headquarters in an area previously zoned for a maximum building height of 35 feet. The height restriction was waived in early 2012 through a variance, which has been challenged in court.
LG and officials from Englewood Cliffs have dismissed critics of the tower, essentially claiming that it is a local issue and none of anyone’s business. LG’s headquarters, they point out, will be energy efficient and create jobs.
But as the 2014 World Monuments Watch listing proves, protecting an iconic landmark like the Palisades is more than local – it’s international!
The Palisades cliffs were preserved a century ago, primarily to stop the blasting and quarrying of this geological marvel. Around the same time, land across the Hudson was preserved for the unparalleled views of the Palisades.
Land for the Cloisters was given by John D. Rockefeller Jr. to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, along with funding to establish the Cloisters Museum and Gardens. “With the gift, Mr. Rockefeller explicitly sought to preserve this significant cultural landscape and viewshed,” the World Monuments Fund noted. “Each year thousands of visitors, including over 10,000 schoolchildren, make the trek to northern Manhattan to experience the Cloisters and its rare panorama of the Hudson River and the Palisades greenway.”
The inclusion of the Palisades and Cloisters on the 2014 World Monuments Watch List should help convince LG to redesign its building to respect and preserve a treasured view and internationally recognized landmark.
To see all the endangered places on the World Monuments Fund watch list, go to www.wmf.org/watch/project-map.
For more information on the Palisades – and how you can help – visit the Protect the Palisades website at www.protectthepalisades.org. Click on the “Write to LG” button on the home page to automatically send an email to Wayne Park, CEO and President of LG Electronics of North America.
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