Deep freeze in Red Hook
Eye on Real Estate: Arctic temps and Instagram-worthy looks at Valentino Pier and Erie Basin Park
The other day we went looking for icicles — and found them on Valentino Pier.
We wanted to snap photos of winter scenes in Red Hook.
Louis Valentino Jr. Park & Pier, with its killer views of the Statue of Liberty, was the ideal place to start.
Spray kicked up during Buttermilk Channel’s high tides had deposited a fringe of icicles on the grillwork of the fence along the pier — and on nearby park benches, too.
Numerous rocks along the shoreline were ice-coated. They resembled gigantic ice cubes.
After what seemed like an endless stretch of Arctic temperatures, the sun decided to grace Brooklyn with its presence last week. The sight of those blue skies made a good long walk in Red Hook seem irresistible.
The window of opportunity for an outdoor adventure was tight. The forecast promised just two days of sunny weather before the arrival of the bomb cyclone.
There’s no better place to be on a bright January day — even when it’s 22 degrees outside — than Red Hook.
The endearing neighborhood has massive New York City Housing Authority complexes, artists’ studios, grimy industrial buildings and a picturesque working waterfront. Sunlight streams down on Civil War-era warehouses, old-fashioned rowhouses and classic cobblestone streets.
Red Hook is located on a peninsula, so there’s water, water, every where, to borrow a line from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”
Shoreline sites like Valentino Pier are suitable for solitary strolls during January’s deep freezes. There’s nobody around except for the occasional Red Hook resident walking a canine companion or two.
You can avoid frostbite with a balaclava and sheepskin boots. Wear two pairs of gloves, layered one on top of the other.
When it’s time to duck indoors to recharge your phone, warm up with hot chowder at Red Hook Lobster Pound or quiche made with jalapeño peppers at coffee shop Baked. At IKEA, the Swedish home-furnishings megastore, a warm cinnamon roll costs one dollar.
Lehigh Valley Barge #79 and the Queen Mary 2
There are many must-see spots during a winter stroll. Here are just a few:
* A few blocks away from Valentino Pier, the shoreline next to the Merchant Stores Building is worth a look. The historic 1870s-vintage brick warehouse is at 175 Van Dyke St.
Neighboring Pier 44 Waterfront Garden’s boardwalk also affords a view of this shoreline.
The day we went to see it, wood posts that stand like sentinels in the sand were striped with ice that had been left behind by splashing surf.
* Check out the waterfront behind the Red Hook Stores Building at 480-500 Van Brunt St., where Fairway supermarket is located. This, too, is a historic warehouse that was built in the 1870s.
The day we were there, ice covered the underside of the New York Water Taxi dock that’s behind the grocery store. Nearby, the red paint on Lehigh Valley Barge #79 added a fiery-bright spot of color to the scenery.
By the way, the barge is also known as the Waterfront Museum.
* A few blocks away, on Beard Street, gantry cranes cast reflections in the waters of Erie Basin Park. If you turn and face the shoreline, you can see the World Trade Center.
If you listen to the winter silence, maybe you’ll hear the ghostly echoes of workers’ voices from Todd Shipyard. It stood here. The gantry cranes were part of it.
IKEA constructed a megastore on the site of the demolished shipyard — and was obligated to build the park.
* Henry Street Basin’s waters serve as a mirror for the iconic Red Hook Grain Terminal. The mirror works well in the winter.
The spot where you stand to see the vacant grain building is in Red Hook Park — which was deserted the day we were there, except for one woman and her friendly dog.
* We spent two days walking around Red Hook because there’s so much to see.
On the second day of our visit, the Queen Mary 2 was docked at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, which is right next to Red Hook’s NYC Ferry landing.
Cunard Line’s super-sized ship is 1,132 feet long and can carry 2,691 passengers.
Its height is limited because it was designed to pass beneath the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Even so, when it’s in port in low-rise Red Hook, the Queen Mary 2 is visible to pedestrians who are several blocks away.
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