Little Red Lighthouse

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jeffrey's Hook Light
Little Red Lighthouse
Little Red Lighthouse, Fort Washington Park.jpg
LocationFort Washington Park, Manhattan, US
Coordinates40°51′01″N 73°56′49″W / 40.8503°N 73.9469°W / 40.8503; -73.9469
Constructed1921 Edit this on Wikidata
Constructionconcrete (foundation), cast iron (tower) Edit this on Wikidata
Height40 ft (12 m) Edit this on Wikidata
Shapeconical Edit this on Wikidata
Markingsred (tower), white (lantern) Edit this on Wikidata
HeritageNew York City Landmark, National Register of Historic Places listed place Edit this on Wikidata
First lit2002 Edit this on Wikidata
Lens12 inches (300 mm)
CharacteristicFl R 3s Edit this on Wikidata
Jeffrey's Hook Lighthouse
MPSHudson River Lighthouses TR
NRHP reference No.79003130[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPMay 29, 1979
Designated NYCLMay 14, 1991

The Little Red Lighthouse, officially Jeffrey's Hook Light, is a small lighthouse located in Fort Washington Park along the Hudson River in Manhattan, New York City, under the George Washington Bridge.[2][3][4] It was made notable by the 1942 children's book The Little Red Lighthouse and The Great Gray Bridge, written by Hildegarde Swift and illustrated by Lynd Ward.

The lighthouse stands on Jeffrey's Hook, a small point of land that supports the base of the eastern pier of the bridge, which connects Washington Heights in Manhattan to Fort Lee, New Jersey.


The first attempt to reduce Hudson River traffic accidents at Jeffrey's Hook was a red pole that was hung out over the river.[5] A 10 candle-power light was added to the pole in 1889 to help alert the increasing river traffic to the spit of land at night. The land around Jeffrey's Hook was acquired by the city in 1896 and later became Fort Washington Park.[5]

The early structure was built as the North Hook Beacon at Sandy Hook, New Jersey, where it stood until 1917, when it became obsolete.[5] It was reconstructed at its current location in 1921 by the United States Lighthouse Board as part of a project to improve Hudson River navigational aids, and originally had a battery-powered lamp and a fog bell. It was operated by a part-time lighthouse keeper.[5]

Construction on the George Washington Bridge, immediately above the lighthouse, started in 1927.[6] When George Washington Bridge was completed in 1931,[7] the lighthouse navigational light was considered obsolete,[8] so the Coast Guard decommissioned it, and put it out in 1948, with the intention of auctioning it off.[5] The proposed dismantling of the lighthouse resulted in a public outcry, largely from children who were fans of the 1942 children's book, The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge.[9] This led the Coast Guard to sign its deed to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation on July 23, 1951.[5]

The lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as "Jeffrey's Hook Lighthouse" in 1979,[10] and was designated a New York City Landmark in 1991.[5] In 2002, it was relighted by the city.[4]


Public access to the lighthouse is by the Hudson River Greenway, reachable north of the George Washington Bridge by a footbridge across the Henry Hudson Parkway at West 182nd Street and Riverside Drive, and south of the bridge by a footbridge at West 158th Street or the newer Denny Farrell Greenway Bridge (a pedestrian and bicycle bridge) at 151st Street.[11] The northern path is very steep immediately north of the bridge, while the southern path is flat.

There is also a very obscure pedestrian underpass at Riverside Drive parallel to 177th Street, just south of the George Washington Bridge. It empties out on the other side of the Henry Hudson Parkway and it's a dirt path down to the lighthouse. This YouTube video[12] gives directions for getting to and using this obscure path. A neighborhood group (Friends of J. Hood Wright Park) in partnership with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation does monthly cleanups of this route.[13]

There is yet another way to get to the Little Red Lighthouse from Washington Heights. This link[14] shows the path using the Haven Ramp to the Little Red Lighthouse and then returns via this other path that takes you out to Riverside Drive on the west side of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. From there one can walk south to 165th.

Tours of the lighthouse are given infrequently. They are arranged by the Parks Department's Urban Park Rangers, especially on the Little Red Lighthouse Festival day in late September and Open House New York day in October. The October Little Red Lighthouse Festivals in 2018 and 2019 were run by the organization Summer on the Hudson[15] in conjunction with the Riverside Park Conservancy[16] and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. There were no festivals in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid pandemic.

In other media[edit]

The lighthouse is an important setting in the final scenes for the 1948 film Force of Evil, and Jane Campion's neo-noir film In the Cut features the lighthouse as motif and as a filming location.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  2. ^ Light List, Volume I, Atlantic Coast, St. Croix River, Maine to Shrewsbury River, New Jersey (PDF). Light List. United States Coast Guard. 2009. p. 312.
  3. ^ "Historic Light Station Information and Photography: New York". United States Coast Guard Historian's Office. Archived from the original on 2017-05-01.
  4. ^ a b Rowlett, Russ (2009-12-28). "Lighthouses of the United States: Downstate New York". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Historic plaque on the lighthouse
  6. ^ "GROUND IS BROKEN FOR HUDSON BRIDGE; Acting Mayor McKee Digs Earth at 178th Street, Mayor White on New Jersey Shore. PLANES SOAR OVER RIVER Governors of Both States Heard by Radio on Both Banks From Steamer in Hudson. SEE FRIENDSHIP CEMENTED Smith Says Span Will Increase Prosperity -- Moore Calls It Monument to Progressive Spirit". The New York Times. September 22, 1927. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  7. ^ "Two Governors Open Great Hudson Bridge As Throngs Look On". The New York Times. October 25, 1931. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 6, 2010.
  8. ^ White, Norval; Willensky, Elliot; Leadon, Fran (2010). AIA Guide to New York City (5th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 570. ISBN 978-0-19538-386-7.
  9. ^ New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Dolkart, Andrew S.; Postal, Matthew A. (2009). Postal, Matthew A. (ed.). Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1., p.213
  10. ^ "Little Red Lighthouse" Archived 2010-12-30 at the Wayback Machine, Washington Heights & Inwood Online, NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation, August 2001, accessed February 27, 2012
  11. ^ Walsh, Kevin (16 January 2018). "HERMAN "DENNY" FARRELL BRIDGE, Washington Heights". Forgotten New York. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  12. ^ DeMarco, Joe. "How to get to The Little Red Lighthouse in Upper Manhattan - NYC". YouTube. YouTube. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  13. ^ Gershenhorn, Ira (12 December 2020). "Haven Avenue Ramp 2020-1212". Flickr. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  14. ^ Crowley, Jim (20 June 2012). "Road to the Little Red Lighthouse". Hope Farm Press 2000. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  15. ^ "Summer on the Hudson". New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  16. ^ "The Riverside Park Conservancy". The Riverside Park Conservancy. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  17. ^ Rockland, Michael Aaron (2008). The George Washington Bridge: Poetry in Steel. Rutgers University Press. pp. 124–25. ISBN 9780813545547.

External links[edit]