Remember the scene in Big where Tom Hanks
morphs back into little Josh Baskin as he walks
down the sun-speckled leafy streets on his return
to kid-dom? That's Cliffside. Unlike its bustling
neighbor Fort Lee, Cliffside Park is a quiet residential
area with a mix of blue-collar workers and professionals,
many of whom commute into Manhattan. Large, early-twentieth-century
homes dominate the ritzy Bluff area, while smaller,
almost midwestern homes fill the streets farther
inland. It's a low-key, small-scale hamlet where
you can walk to a corner Häagen-Dazs or blues
club, and where you can still land a three-bedroom
home with a front porch and spacious backyard
for the price of a junior one-bedroom in the Village.
Lay of the land As its name suggests,
the town rests atop the cliffs overlooking the
Hudson River, facing Harlem. The housing stock
falls into three categories. In the Cliff section,
many homes have river and city views, and prices
start at $400,000. Farther inland, the prices
start dropping. The area between the cliffs and
Anderson Avenue, the area's main commercial artery,
offers up lots of Colonials on quiet streets for
prices ranging from $250,000 to $500,000. Beyond
Anderson Avenue, the houses get smaller and prices
start at $220,000.
Meet the neighbors In April, Kevin and Jeanne
Larkins moved to Cliffside Park from Queens. Kevin,
23, works as an engineer in Rockland County (30
minutes north), and Jeanne, 24, is an assistant
editor at Cahners in Chelsea. They rent a one-bedroom
apartment -- the top floor of a two-story house
off Anderson Avenue with walk-in closets -- for
$850 a month, utilities included.
Creature comforts Cliffside is just northwest
of Edgewater, Bergen County's fastest-growing town,
where new apartments and lots of big-box retailers
(Target, Barnes & Noble, Staples) are sprouting
up at a frantic pace. Anderson Avenue is a crowded
street bursting with restaurants (Spanish, Japanese,
and Italian are the top three categories here).
The Larkinses say there are still some culinary
deficiencies. "The pizza is not New York pizza,"
says Kevin, "but it's trying."
COLUMBIA AVENUE. Six-bedroom, two-bath Victorian
with wrap-around porch, partial views of the
New York skyline, French doors, fabulous woodwork,
detached garage. Sold in August for $365,000.
Prime areas The luxurious Winston and
Carlyle Towers are just inside the Cliffside border
near Fort Lee and offer great river and city views.
Some of the nicest houses in town are in East
Palisades, along the cliff, where the river views
The cons Bergen County's blue laws mandate
that practically everything is closed on Sunday.
The commute The New Jersey Transit 156
or 159 express bus will get you to Port Authority
in about 35 minutes. A new ferry terminal planned
for Fort Lee in the next twelve to eighteen months
will shave five to ten minutes off the commute.
Schools The area's four elementary schools
have great reputations, but for high school, many
parents send their kids to private schools in
neighboring Ridgefield and elsewhere.
Best brokers Charles Chichizola at RE/MAX
Experts (201-947-8800) and Mimi Messerian at Coldwell
the September 17, 2001 issue of New York Magazine.
by Sean Hemmerle. Maps by BRM.