Marking the centennial of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, Palisades: 100,000 Acres in 100 Years celebrates the unique series of parklands, many within sight of the Empire State Building, that is the Palisades Interstate Park. Beginning with the efforts of Elizabeth Vermilye of the New Jersey Federation of Women's Clubs, who enlisted President Theodore Roosevelt's support to stop the blasting and quarrying of Palisades rock, this book traces the story of the famous- including J.P. Morgan, the Rockefellers, and the Harrimans- and not-so-famous men and women whose donations of time and money led to the preservation of New York and New Jersey's most scenic and historic lands.
Despite the involvement of men of great wealth and fame from its earliest beginnings, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission faced an early and ongiong struggle to arrange financial support from both the New York and New Jersey state governments for a park that would cross state lines. The conflicts between developers and conservationists, industrialists and wilderness enthusiasts, with their opposing views regarding the uses of natural resources, required the commissioners of the PIPC to become skilled negotiators, assiduous fundraisers, and savvy participants in the political process.
The efforts to create the Palisades Interstate Park was prodigious, requiring more than one thousand real-estate transactions to establish Sterling Forest, to save Storm King Mountain, to preserve Lake Minnewaska, to protect Stony Point Battlefield and Washington's Headquarters, to open Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks, and to add the other sixteen parks to the Palisades Interstate Park System. The results have been astonishing: an inn and restauant, 350 miles of hiking trails, four large public beaches, 12 swimming pools, two golf courses, 42 miles of bike trails, ten sewage treatment plants, two police forces and a court, highways, parkways, and bridges all requiring almost one thousand employes in the summer season.
Because of the PIPC, many millions of people have had the opportunity to enjoy the special beauty of the Palisades. Conservationists, developers, citizen's groups, and politicians from throughout the country have been able to observe cooperation in action, learning from the PIPC the importance of preserving open space within a densely populated area.