Red Hook, Brooklyn
Red Hook is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, U.S.A. The neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community Board 6. It is also the location where the transatlantic liner RMS Queen Mary 2 docks in New York City.
Red Hook has been part of the Town of Brooklyn since it was organized in the 1600s. It is named for the red clay soil and the point of land projecting into the Upper New York Bay. The village was settled by Dutch colonists of New Amsterdam in 1636, and named Roode Hoek. In Dutch "Hoek" means "point" or "corner" and not the English hook (i.e., not something curved or bent). The actual "hoek" of Red Hook was a point on an island that stuck out into Upper New York Bay at today's Dikeman Street west of Ferris Street. From the 1880s to the present time, people who live in the eastern area of Red Hook have referred to their neighborhood as "The Point". Today, the area is home to about 11,000 people.
During the Battle of Brooklyn (also known as the Battle of Long Island), a fort was constructed on the "hoek" called "Fort Defiance". It is shown on a map called "a Map of the Environs of Brooklyn" drawn in 1780 by a loyalist engineer named George S. Sproule.
General Israel Putnam came to New York on April 4, 1776, to assess the state of its defenses and strengthen them. Among the works initiated were forts on Governor's Island and Red Hook, facing the bay. On April 10, one thousand Continentals took possession of both points and began constructing Fort Defiance which mounted one three pounder cannon and four eighteen pounders. The cannons were to be fired over the tops of the fort's walls. During May, Washington described it as "small but exceedingly strong". On July 5, General Nathanael Greene called it "a post of vast importance" and, three days later, Col. Varnum's regiment joined its garrison.
The Sproule map shows that Fort Defiance complex actually consisted of three redoubts on a small island connected by trenches, with an earthwork on the island’s south side to defend against a landing. The entire earthwork was about 1,600 feet long and covered the entire island. The three redoubts covered an area about 400 feet by 800 feet. The two principal earthworks were about 150 feet by 175 feet, and the tertiary one was about 75 feet by 100 feet. On July 12, the British frigates Rose and Phoenix and the schooner Tyrol ran the gauntlet past Defiance and the stronger Governor's Island works without firing a shot, and got all the way to Tappan Zee, the widest part of the Hudson River. They stayed there for over a month, beating off harassing attacks, and finally returned to Staten Island on August 18. It would appear that gunfire from Fort Defiance did damage to the British ships. Samuel Shaw wrote to his parents on July 15:
General Howe has arrived with the army from Halifax, which is encamped on Staten Island. On Friday, two ships and three tenders, taking advantage of a brisk gale and strong current, ran by our batteries, up the North River where they at present remain. By deserters we learn that they sustained considerable damage, being hulled in many places, and very much hurt in their rigging. So great was their hurry, that they would not stay to return our salute, though it was given with much cordiality and warmth; which they seemed very sensible of, notwithstanding their distance, which was nearly two miles.
Almost the entire New York Metropolitan area was under British military occupation from the end of 1776 until November 23, 1783, when they evacuated the city.
The Sproule and Ratzer maps show that Red Hook was a low-lying area full of tidal mill ponds created by the Dutch. In 1839 the City of Brooklyn published a plan to create streets, which included filling in all of the ponds and other low-lying areas.
In the 1840s entrepreneurs began to build ports as the "offloading end" of the Erie Canal. These included the Atlantic, Erie and Brooklyn Basins. By the 1920s, they made Red Hook the busiest freight port in the world, but this ended in the 1960s with the advent of containerization. In the 1930s, the area was poor, and the site of the current Red Hook Houses was the site of a shack city for the homeless, called a "Hooverville".
Rapeleye Street in Red Hook commemorates the beginnings of one of New Amsterdam's earliest families, the Rapelje clan, descended from the first European child born in the new Dutch settlement in the New World, Sarah Rapelje. She was born near Wallabout Bay, which later became the site of the New York (Brooklyn) Naval Shipyard. A couple of decades after the birth of his daughter Sarah, Joris Jansen Rapelje removed to Brooklyn, where he was one of the Council of twelve men, and where he was soon joined by son-in-law Hans Hansen Bergen. Rapelye Street in Red Hook is named for Rapelje and his descendants, who lived in Brooklyn for centuries.
In 1990 LIFE named Red Hook as one of the "worst" neighborhoods in the United States and as "the crack capital of America." Patrick Daly, the Principal of P.S. 15, was killed in 1992, in the crossfire of a drug-related shooting while looking for a pupil who had left his school. The school was later renamed the Patrick Daly school after the beloved principal. Red Hook is the site of the NYCHA Red Hook Houses, the largest public housing development in Brooklyn, which accommodates roughly 6,000 residents. Red Hook also contains several parks, including Red Hook Park.
In 2010, Red Hook's first community newspaper, The Red Hook Star-Revue began publication.
Red Hook is part of the area known as South Brooklyn. This name is derived from the original City of Brooklyn which ended at Atlantic Street, now Atlantic Avenue. In the 1950s anything south of Atlantic Avenue was considered South Brooklyn, thus the names "Red Hook" and "South Brooklyn" were applied also to today's Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Columbia Heights and Gowanus neighborhoods. Portions of Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill were granted landmark status in the 1970s and carved out of Red Hook which is a peninsula between Buttermilk Channel, Gowanus Bay and Gowanus Canal at the southern edge of Downtown Brooklyn. Red Hook is the only part of New York City that has a full frontal view of the Statue of Liberty, which was oriented to face France, the country which donated the statue to the United States following the country's centennial.
New York City has expanded its water ferry service, operated by New York Water Taxi. This service normally runs between IKEA and Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan, but has added a new stop at Van Brunt Street to support local businesses hurt by Hurricane Sandy. The free ferry runs between 10am and 9pm. Originally, when this free service was first introduced, it proved to be popular with local residents, causing changes in the operating policy to favor IKEA shoppers. Under the current schedule, the ferry runs from Monday to Friday, every 40 minutes from 2pm, $5 for one way. On Saturday and Sunday, it runs free of charge, every 20 minutes from 11am.
Bus service is popular. The B61 bus route provides service from Hamilton Avenue, through Erie Basin/IKEA Plaza, to Van Brunt St and then northward, through the Columbia Street Waterfront District and terminates in Downtown Brooklyn. It also connects with the Culver Line's Smith–Ninth Streets station. The B57 bus also connects Red Hook with Downtown Brooklyn and Maspeth, Queens.
IKEA provides a complimentary shuttle that runs to Smith and 9th, 4th and 9th and Borough Hall subway stations from 3 to 9 p.m. daily, Monday through Friday every half hour, and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every 20 minutes. Non-shoppers are also found to use this service.
Red Hook Streetcar Revival Efforts
Though it’s been since 1956 since electric trolleys ran in Brooklyn, activists led by the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association (BHRA) have been trying to revive streetcars in Red Hook since 1989. With permission from New York City’s government to develop a streetcar line running from Beard Street to Borough Hall, in the 1990s BHRA president Robert Diamond collected disused PCC streetcars that had been used in Boston and Buffalo for potential use on the new line. By 1999, Diamond had begun laying new track for the project, but in 2003 transportation officials elected to revoke Diamond’s rights to the route’s right of way, instead intending to sell them to the highest bidder in the event that the project ever moved forward. Diamond’s efforts to secure independent funding were not successful.
In 2005, Rep. Nydia Velázquez acquired a $300,000 federal grant for a 6-month streetcar study. Though BHRA had estimated $10-$15 million would be required to complete the project, the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) streetcar feasibility study (completed in April 2011) concluded that the 6.8 mile line would cost $176 million in capital funding, plus an additional $6.2 to $7.2 million in annual operating funds. A significant portion of the capital cost would be required to make modifications to Red Hook’s narrow streets in order to allow streetcars to make right turns.
Despite finding that Red Hook was underserved by transit, the study concluded that due to a number of factors, a streetcar line would not be an appropriate transit solution for the neighborhood. Because 81.5 percent of Red Hook residents did not own a car and therefore were already dependent on transit, the study estimated that a streetcar would generate only 1,822 daily riders. The study also found that a streetcar would not be a significant upgrade over existing buses in terms of travel times and reliability, and would not likely spur significant economic development unless combined with zoning changes from the New York City Department of City Planning (DCP). Since DCP had designated Red Hook as a “working waterfront,” no such zoning changes appeared to be forthcoming.
As of June 2013, Diamond had partnered with John Quadrozzi of Gowanus Bay Terminal (a concrete firm), and the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation in an effort to revive the project, which he now envisions running partly underground through a 19th century Long Island Railroad tunnel. Diamond is pursuing federal funding in order to pay for the project, which he estimates would cost $50 million.
IKEA in Red Hook
Red Hook is the site of a large IKEA store (346,000 square feet) that opened on June 18, 2008 near the Gowanus Expressway. The building of IKEA was controversial as it replaced a 19th-century dry dock at which was still in use. Residents cited concerns including traffic congestion, a decrease in property values and destruction of this transit-oriented neighborhood and historically significant buildings in the area.
Brooklyn artist Greg Lindquist (b. 1979) exhibited a group of paintings in February 2008 in New York City that depicted the IKEA site in process, juxtaposing the maritime decay with the new construction.
A report from New York City Economic Development Corporation announced the findings and recommendations of its Maritime Support Services Location Study. The study found that New York City needs eight more dry docks. According to the report, it will cost $1 billion to replace the one IKEA is using as a parking lot. No schedule for replacement was announced. In addition, IKEA and its contractor demolished Civil War era buildings and exposed the community to asbestos. IKEA's contractor was found to be in "violation for not having filed asbestos work, failing to monitor the air, not posting any warnings, failure to construct decontamination protections before disturbing the asbestos-containing materials, and doing nothing to protect and decontaminate the material, as well as the workers and building waste."
A once free ferry service for shoppers from Manhattan proved more popular than expected. IKEA charges for the ferry but reimburses at checkout; this serves as a deterrent to would-be Red Hook "commuters" from using the ferry for non-shopping purposes.
- The Red Hook Waterfront Arts Festival is an annual summer kick-off held in Louis J. Valentino, Jr. Park & Pier featuring dance, music, and spoken-word poetry. Dance Theatre Etcetera, the producers of the event, concentrate local resources for residents and bring in community partners with activities for the whole family.
- Sunday's at Sunny's is a reading series held the first Sunday of every month, co-sponsored by Sunny's Bar and the independent bookstore Bookcourt, and co-ordinated by writer Gabriel Cohen. This popular event celebrated its seventh anniversary June 7, 2009.
- Red Hook Crit is an annual, unsanctioned bicycle race held on a springtime night on track bikes. It began as an underground event but has grown to become "what is possibly the country's coolest bike race."
- Carmelo Anthony
- Busta Rhymes
- Al Capone
- Crazy Joe Gallo
- Harlan Ellison's book Memos from Purgatory is about the author infiltrating a gang in Red Hook.
- H. P. Lovecraft
- James McBride
- Norman Mailer
- Greg O’Connell, community developer
- Sarah Rapelje, for whose family Brooklyn's Rapelye Street is named
- Hell Razah, rapper, member of hip-hop group Sunz of Man
- Matty Rich, director of movies Straight Out of Brooklyn and The Inkwell
- Shabazz the Disciple, rapper, member of hip-hop group Sunz of Man
- Michael Shannon
- Peter Steele, member of Type O Negative
- Taz, real name Peter Senerchia, wrestler
- Eli Wallach
- Dustin Yellin
In popular culture
- The film On the Waterfront is set in Red Hook, though filmed in Hoboken, New Jersey.
- Red Hook is the first dance battle that takes place in the film Step Up 3D, in the lead up to the World Jam Competition.
- Red Hook was the setting for the H. P. Lovecraft 1927 story "The Horror at Red Hook".
- In Thomas Wolfe's short story "Only the Dead Know Brooklyn", the narrator, Wolfe himself, rides the subway at night and is warned by someone he meets to not walk around in Red Hook. It is written in transliterated circa 1936 Brooklynese.
- The area was used as the setting for Arthur Miller's 1955 play A View from the Bridge.
- Pier 41 at 204 Van Dyke Street was used as the setting of a bar scene in the 2005 Will Smith film, Hitch.
- The cast of The Real World: Brooklyn, MTV's reality television series The Real World, resided at Pier 41.
- Red Hook is the birthplace of gangster Joe Gallo, which was commemorated in Bob Dylan's song "Joey" from the album, Desire.
- Red Hook is the birthplace and sometimes current residence of Steve Rogers, also known as Captain America.
- Professional wrestler Taz is said to be from the "Red Hook section of Brooklyn, New York".
- "The Red Hook" is the name of a cocktail created at Milk & Honey.
- Red Hook figures prominently in Gabriel Cohen's 2001 crime novel Red Hook, nominated for the Edgar award for Best First Novel.
- Red Hook is the setting of the similarly titled Reggie Nadelson 2005 crime novel Red Hook.
- The 1991 independent and award-winning film Straight Out of Brooklyn is set in the Red Hook Housing Projects.
- The 2008 independent documentary film A Hole in a Fence by D.W. Young chronicles the changing fortunes of Red Hook.
- Red Hook appears in Bill Murray's movie Quick Change as the neighborhood in which the robbers get lost and witness two men on bikes apparently having some sort of chivalric fight over honor with garden tools.
- Red Hook was the setting for the 1989 film, Last Exit to Brooklyn.
- A neighborhood based on Red Hook appears in Grand Theft Auto IV, under the name "East Hook".
- Red Hook is the setting for the book Memos from Purgatory by Harlan Ellison. The book was once considered to be one of Kurt Vonnegut's all-time favorites.
- In Cassandra Clare's book City of Ashes the main characters drive to this beach as a way to get to Valentine's ship.
- In the 1997 film Cop Land, after a white NYPD officer kills two African American motorists who he thought were firing on him, the other officers back him up referring to his past heroic action in Red Hook.
- The protagonist of the 2011 film The Adjustment Bureau grew up in Red Hook.
- Red Hook Summer, a 2012 American film directed by Spike Lee
- Henry R. Stiles (1869): A History of the City of Brooklyn, Vol. II, available at books.google.com, 500 pages
- Robert B. Roberts (1980): New York's forts in the Revolution, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 521 pages
- Wick, Steve (March 28, 2009). "14 Generations: New Yorkers Since 1624, the Rapeljes Are On a Mission to Keep Their History Alive". Newsday.
- Urban Environmentalist: The Hidden History of the Rapaljes, gowanuslounge.com
- Brooklyn by Name: How the Neighborhoods, Streets, Parks, Bridges, and More Got Their Names. New York: New York University Press. 2006. pp. 59–60. ISBN 0-8147-9946-9. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- Brooklyn by Name: How the Neighborhoods, Streets, Parks, Bridges, and More Got Their Names. New York: New York University Press. 2006. p. 69. ISBN 0-8147-9946-9. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- "About Red Hook". Red Hook Justice at PBS. Retrieved on November 20, 2008.
- Rogan, Helen (August 7, 2000). "Red Hook Catches the Wave". New York. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- Orchant, Rebecca (November 9, 2012). "Brooklyn's Court Street Grocers On Hurricane Sandy's Aftermath In Red Hook". Huffington Post. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
- Carter, Nicole (June 17, 2008). "9 questions for the Brooklyn IKEA store manager". Daily News (New York). Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- "TEN (10) REASONS TO OPPOSE IKEA-RED HOOK"; bigcityboxes.com; May 2005
- Calder, Rich (June 23, 2008). "IKEA Berth Pangs; City Dock Deal a $1B Blunder". New York Post. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- Wisloski, Jess (January 29, 2005). "IKEA hit with asbestos fines". The Brooklyn Paper. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- Calder, Rich (July 17, 2008). "Hook Rocks IKEA Boat". New York Post. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- Red Hook Waterfront Arts Festival
- Red Hook Crit
- Landau, Ian. "At the Red Hook Crit, It's Anyone's Race". Bicycling Magazine. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
- Garner, Dwight (March 18, 2011). "Remaking Mount Morris". The New York Times.
- The New American Cyclopedia, George Ripley, D. Appleton & Co., New York, 1858
- Martin, Michael; "Real World Brooklyn Docks at Pier 41 in Red Hook"; mm-agency.com; July 21, 2008
- Roddy Rickhouse; "Frontier Mixology: Bar Review & Cocktail Two-fer, Red Hook’s Fort Defiance"; frontpsych.com; May 20, 2011
- Red Hook Star-Revue local newspaper distributed in Red Hook and the adjacent Columbia Waterfront District and Carroll Gardens.