I’m quite positive that the everyday person associates the phrase “urban exploration” with “illegal trespassing.” That is, if they happen to know the gist of the phrase in the first place.
Okay, fine. Most places don’t exactly invite you in for tea and crumpets, but some come close. For example, Cliffdale Manor in the Palisades.
Back in 1911, George Zabriskie had his summer home built along the Palisades cliffs, overlooking the Hudson. In an effort to preserve the beauty of the area, John Rockefeller bought the house, and donated it to the Park in order for it to be demolished (along with many others in the area), leaving only ruins in its place.
While the basement levels (above ground) remain relatively intact, the upper levels are completely demolished. In fact, only the front of the two-level basement is accessible, which sat below the patio. The remaining roof has caved in, and entrances have been sealed off. You can catch glimpses of the interior from walking along the, now, ceiling. For a beautiful, side by side description of what this manor was and what is of it today, check out Nick Carr’s post on Scouting New York.
So! Like I said, this gem is hidden in plain sight. Go to Palisades Park, and park at the Alpine Lookout (which is the second lookout if you’re coming from the bridge). If you’re facing the water, walk left and take the very obvious trail. Walk the trail for 10 minutes or so until you see it. Literally that easy.
Side note: I rarely like to put pictures of my face on here (or at least I keep them at the very end), because let’s be honest, you are not reading this to see my mug. However, when my buddy Richard and I showed up wearing the exact same outfit, I couldn’t help myself.