Take an early autumn stroll around Red Hook’s historic waterfront
Eye on Real Estate
History lives on the Red Hook waterfront.
The post-Civil War-era warehouses there are a thing of beauty.
In grim gloom or azure-skied sunshine, it will soothe your soul to see them.
The other day we set out on a stroll so we could soak up the melancholy of a storm-clouded day in this gritty, beautiful neighborhood.
This is a hard moment to be a feminist/liberal/patriot, to love America and worry about the anguish and anger enveloping it. The dark sky’s mood matched our own.
We started with a loooong amble from the Smith-9th Streets Station to Red Hook Park.
We headed first to the Henry Street Basin for a look at the Red Hook Grain Terminal.
The hulking set of 54 circular cement silos is vacant and covered in black mold.
It hasn’t been used as a grain terminal since 1965.
The 120-foot-tall structure was built in 1922 and operated by the state, an informative story posted by AbandonedNYC says. The terminal could hold 2 million bushels of grain.
We sat at a picnic table in the silent park and stared at the silos.
The sky was the color of lead.
Usually on cloudy days, Henry Street Basin’s waters turn glassy and mirror the concrete terminal in a photogenic way.
On our visit that day, the mirror thing wasn’t happening. The waters were just dark.
Ponding on Beard Street
Right nearby, Red Hook Soccer Field 2 was fenced-in and closed while awaiting soil-contamination cleanup by the city Parks Department. Grasses and weeds were so tall they half-obscured abandoned goal posts.
In another part of Red Hook Park, storm clouds were purple.
We headed out of the park and into the neighborhood.
On the corner of Van Dyke and Dwight streets, a ghost bike for a dead cyclist injected a note of sadness to the scene.
On Beard Street, which runs past IKEA, there was a massive flood on the roadway. Cars plowed through it at their peril.
Right about then, the weather decided to play nice. The sky turned fabulously blue and storybook-style white clouds appeared. The water that was pooled up on the street suddenly reflected a gantry crane in nearby Erie Basin Park.
Thereafter, the scenery was sunlit and the skies were bright. So much for melancholy.
Our photos from that point onwards look like we took them a different day, or a different week, maybe, from our earlier pictures.
Thanks for the architectural eye candy, William Beard
We wouldn’t think of visiting waterfront Red Hook without stopping at the Fairway Market on Van Brunt Street.
It’s situated in a historic property called the Red Hook Stores Building.
This five-story brick warehouse has beautiful details such as arched windows with shutters.
The Red Hook Stores Building belongs to the O’Connell Organization. The family-run company is responsible for renovating and taking good care of the neighborhood’s handsomest industrial real estate.
Irish immigrant William Beard constructed the Red Hook Stores Building in 1869. He also created the Erie Basin.
According to a Brownstoner.com story, New York Warehousing Company rented the Red Hook Stores Building and used it to store cotton.
The Fairway, which opened in 2006, is a neighborhood mainstay. It was damaged by Superstorm Sandy and rebuilt.
This barge is a museum
We followed the curving shoreline outside Fairway to Pier 44 Waterfront Garden. Red-painted Lehigh Valley Barge #79 was tied up at the dock.
The cloudscapes over the barge were ridiculously pretty.
The barge was built in 1914. It is now the Waterfront Museum. Plays and art exhibitions are staged aboard the vessel.
As we ambled around the waterfront garden, we got a good view of Pier 41. That’s where another O’Connell Organization property, the Merchant Stores Building, is located.
Col. Daniel Richards constructed this building in 1873.
The end of the building that’s farthest from the shoreline is occupied by events venue Liberty Warehouse, which belongs to Buzz O’Keeffe, the owner of the fabled River Cafe.
Liberty Warehouse’s outdoor space has an excellent view of the Statue of Liberty, which is out there in the harbor.
Louis Valentino Jr. was a hero
We headed past the Merchant Stores Building to a small public green space with a tiny beach.
This is Louis Valentino Jr. Park and Pier.
This city park is named after Louis Valentino Jr., a heroic firefighter who died on the job in 1996. He was searching for victims of a three-alarm blaze at a chop shop in Flatlands.
Heavy snow and ice caused its roof to collapse while Valentino and other firefighters were inside the building.
At the time of his death, he was a member of the elite Rescue Company 2 in Crown Heights. The 37-year-old had been a firefighter for 11½ years.
Valentino grew up in Red Hook and graduated summa cum laude from St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights. He spent 18 summers lifeguarding in Coney Island.
He is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery.
We thought about Valentino’s bravery and walked to the end of the pier for a good look at beloved 1 World Trade Center off in the distance.
The blue skies held fast, which supercharged the view.
Sunset at the NYC Ferry dock
We lingered in Red Hook so we could see sunset on the shoreline.
We walked inland two blocks and spent time on Van Brunt Street.
This commercial corridor, as you of course know, is dotted with shops and galleries where you can buy clothes, vinyl records, books and drawings. There are entertaining bars and restaurants, though you should remember that on weekdays some are open only for dinner.
When the hour grew sufficiently late, we strolled past Pioneer Works, artist Dustin Yellin’s cultural center on Pioneer Street, to the NYC Ferry dock.
The pedestrian entrance to the ferry is located at the end of Pioneer Street where it runs into Conover Street.
The dock is in the Atlantic Basin section of the waterfront.
High cloud cover added drama to our photos.
After taking pictures, we rode the ferry to our office in Brooklyn Heights.
This meant we passed by gantry cranes on the shoreline and got an eyeful of the lights in 1 World Trade Center’s windows.
Leave a Comment
Leave a Comment