A Commuter's Guide to Englewood Cliffs

Written by Dan Levine, designer at East House Creative

“You work where?”

Englewood Cliffs, NJ sits a mile north of the George Washington Bridge, on the wooded bluffs of the Palisades. Most New Yorkers are familiar with its big sister, Fort Lee, whose name is synonymous with the approach to Manhattan and the frantic search for toll fare.

Englewood Cliffs’ anonymity to some is in stark contrast to its reputation in financial circles as home to CNBC, Citicorp, Unilever and other major corporations. In the face of changing financial realities in Manhattan, the creative community should become familiar with the opportunities across the bridge.

Unlike Hoboken and Jersey City, Englewood Cliffs is not accessible by train and as a result, it is “off the grid” for many rail-loving New Yorkers. Little do they know that NJ transit operates frequent buses from the George Washington Bridge bus terminal at the 175 Street stop of the A train, a mere five stops from 42 Street in regular express service. The 186 bus crosses the bridge and arrives in Englewood Cliffs in 10 minutes. Those New Yorkers with cars are likely already aware that driving off-peak means Englewood Cliffs is within 20 minutes of most of the boroughs with plenty of free parking.

Crossing the Hudson at the George Washington Bridge provides a whole different experience than burrowing under the river in a car or train. Using the bridge means one can employ various combinations of NYC subways, NJ transit buses, shuttle buses, cars or bikes (my personal favorite) to suit any mood or change in the weather. Being able to choose and change one’s travel routine creates possibilities for enriching new experiences and vistas. I would even say that I am more fortunate than my New Jersey-based colleagues who have no choice but to rely on their cars to get to work.

Bergen County’s Route 9 has long been a destination for New York City bicyclists in search of fresh air, good shoulders and few stops. Commuters can bicycle from any point in New York City to Englewood Cliffs, saving on gas and travel fares while enjoying unobstructed views of the Palisades.

My current bicycle route from Queens to the Manhattan side of the bridge includes a diagonal stretch through Harlem and Washington Heights from East 125 Street to West 175 Street.

It features the beautiful townhouses of Central Harlem and Strivers’ Row as well as the tree-lined splendor of Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. Harlem’s relatively low traffic density and wide avenues make it a great place to ride; fewer cabs means more space for bicycles.

I’ve managed to shave down the bike ride to under an hour, but it still doesn’t beat taking the car when I’m feeling lazy.