The Gesner Diaries: A Project For A Lifetime

Our Palisades library holds a little-known treasure: the 1600 hand-written pages of Nicholas Gesnerʼs diary, set down between 1829 and 1850. Nicholas, born in 1765, lived his whole life in Palisades. He experienced the Revolutionary War, saw Major André hung in Tappan, and made his living here as a shipbuilder, farmer, schoolteacher, lawyer, and surveyor. His diary, which is written in a crabbed hand writing with many cryptic abbreviations, has never been transcribed but is full of interesting details about his neighbors and about early life in Palisades.

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Tapping Your Roots

Researching your roots to discover family members who played a role in determining who you are can be a fascinating journey but with so many sources of genealogical information available today it can be a bit overwhelming.

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Letter to the Editor: Palisades-Sparkill Baseball League

Along Route 340, north of Oak Tree Road and the Palisades Parkway, is the American Legion’s John M. Perry Post. For almost 50 years Orangetown children, ages 8 to 12, have been learning and playing organized baseball on the John O’Rourke Memorial Field just across from their building.

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Our Hidden Historic Cemetery

Many Palisadians have never seen the community’s historic cemetery, which can be reached by a lane located next to the Thayer house, not far from the Post Office. After more than 200 years of existence, it is now threatened with abandonment.

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Oak Tree Road

As we drive down Oak Tree Road to Tappan, it’s hard to imagine a time when the road didn’t exist. But in the 18th and early 19th century the only way to Tappan was by a “cow path” north of the present Oak Tree Road, down the hill to the west, and across the Sparkill Creek by a log.

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Ghost Roads in Palisades: The First in an Occasional Series on the Lanes and Byways of Palisades

Last night, grey clouds blushing pink from the city lights raced across a not quite full moon as my husband and I walked up Washington Spring Road in the dark, carrying a flashlight as our only protection against whatever might be out there. Sheila Asch had advised me when we first moved here to carry a flashlight because not every lane had streetlights. You could stumble or worse in the pitch black. Possibly even get lost! Possibly never to be seen again. We had moved to Brigadoon, so we had learned—it could happen.

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Century Estate on Century Road

Century Road wanders off to the left part way down Closter Road, leading to a cul-de-sac of nine contemporary houses set among tall trees. A few of the houses were originally the same, although later owners have made alterations; the rest are different from each other. The original development owes its creation to Joanne Bergman, who lived in Pomona with her husband Jules and children David, Beth and Karen, before moving to Palisades in 1966.

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Palisades Cemetery

Today the future of the Palisades Cemetery is uncertain. The current owner of record does not participate in the property maintenance, financial or otherwise. In 1982, native Palisadian Helene Stansbury and others formed an ad hoc group called P.L.O.T. to clean up and maintain the neglected cemetery. The work has continued ever since.

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The Penguin Pool

It’s getting to be like Old MacDonald’s farm around here with goats and chickens springing up in a number of neighbors’ backyards. Creatures a bit more exotic have called Palisades home in the past; among them have been a peacock or two and a pair of penguins.

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Closter Road Part 2: from the Flagpole to the General Store

Those of us who live here in 10964 agree on one thing: we live in a remarkable place. There are many reasons why - the history, the people and the place itself. But unless it is documented in some way, the history can quickly vanish. With their outstanding books, Alice Gerard and her mother Alice Haagensen have done a wonderful job of recording Palisades’ history for future generations. But there are always gaps, recollections that enrich the story with their color and perspective. And that is why I’m writing this article about a part of Palisades where I’ve lived since 1968 - one block of Closter Road from Route 9W to Oak Tree Road.

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Closter Road, Part I

This section of Closter Road, winding gently downhill from the corner by the Palisades Library to the New Jersey state line, has a long and fascinating history. It is one of the oldest roads in Palisades, having been laid out in 1745 over an earlier track that connected the tiny community here with the more thickly settled areas in northern Bergen County.

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STEINBECK'S GUNS

Two years ago Palisades historian Alice Gerard was contacted by the writer Steve Hauk, who had discovered an interesting bit of Palisades history and wanted more information. He had found an application for a pistol permit signed by the writer John Steinbeck in 1942. The following article is based on Hauk’s discovery.

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October is Rockland History Month

To celebrate, the Historical Society of Rockland County has put together an exhibit entitled, Rockland History: Through Your Eyes, from September 26 to November 7.

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Route 340, Past and Present

10964 continues its series on the smaller enclaves which make up Palisades with this article on Carteret Rd. (Route 340) from Oak Tree Road to the New Jersey border.

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Memorial Day 2010

On Monday, May 31, Palisadians gathered at the flagpole on Closter Road and Route 9W to remember the young soldiers who gave their lives to protect this country. The event was celebrated by a parade, and with speeches by Murray Cohen and by Alice Gerard, chair of the Palisades HIstoric Committee. Alice Gerard's speech is reproduced below.

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Camp Shanks to Indian HIll

Indian Hill is a wooded enclave of thirteen modern houses located west of Closter Road just past the Palisades Parkway crossing. It was created in the early 1950s by a group of World War II veterans living in the converted army barracks of Camp Shanks, then being used by Columbia University as temporary housing for married students. Camp Shanks was expected to close in the next year or so and members of this group wanted to stay in the Palisades area. They looked everywhere in the hamlet and found that most land was too expensive for them, but then discovered a large piece of property along Closter Road, part of a former farm.

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HEYHOE KARMA: A Love Story

I was inspired to write the following piece after reading the wonderful article about HeyHoe Woods written by Greta Nettleton in the last issue of 10964. I hope this will add a bit more luster to the mystique of this wonderful HeyHoe Woods Road.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, a young newly minted Columbia University PhD scientist from Kansas, moved with his wife and daughter to Heyhoe Woods, renting Sanderson Vanderbilt’s house towards the end of the road. They loved the privacy and mystery of this unique section of Palisades. The year was 1966. Soon enough the family expanded to include a second daughter and a beagle named Sadie. Life was fine for Dennis Hayes, his wife, Judy, and his two girls Jennifer and Katharine. Elizabeth, their youngest, had not yet been born.

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The Development, Originally Palisades Gardens

In the late 1950s Palisades Gardens, located to the left of Oak Tree Road above Route 340, was built on 50 acres of land that had most recently belonged to Charles Nessler, the inventor of the permanent wave. Originally part of the old Mann farm, the land had been bought in the late 19th century by Floyd Bailey, who built an estate called Valley View. Early in the 20th century Bailey sold the property to the banker James Wallace, who founded the Sparkill Bank, and built an imposing stone wall along the road. Nessler bought the property in the 1920s.

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Heyhoe Woods Road Through the Ages

Palisades and Its Communities

HeyHoe Woods is made up of approximately 24 acres and bordered by South Orangetown School District property, IBM, The Esplanade and Oak Tree Road.

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Henry Hudson’s River

Curious about what lies on the Hudson floor along the Palisades? You would be amazed. On Sunday October 25th, the Palisades Library will be sponsoring a talk at 3:00 pm at the Esplanade on Oak Tree Road given by Dr. William Ryan entitled, “Mapping Our River in the Footsteps of Henry Hudson.”

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