Red Hook

Floating museums and 19th-century storehouses: The Red Hook I cherish

Eye on Real Estate: RIP Lidgerwood Building

May 29, 2019 Lore Croghan
Take a long look now before UPS tears down this part of Red Hook’s historic Lidgerwood Building. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

This could be your last chance to see the Lidgerwood Building. Take a good, long look.

On the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, when many Brooklyn residents were headed out of town, UPS started tearing down the former foundry at 202 Coffey St.

Even with the construction fence around it, the Lidgerwood Building or what’s left of it is eye-catching. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Even with the construction fence around it, the Lidgerwood Building — or what’s left of it — is eye-catching. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

The package-delivery giant decided to bulldoze the 1880s red-painted brick factory without speaking to community activists who wanted to discuss ways to save the building facade closest to Louis Valentino Jr. Park and Pier.

The maritime machinery that Lidgerwood Manufacturing Company made was used in the construction of the Panama Canal and the Croton Falls Reservoir’s main dam. In recent years, TV shows and movies were made inside its walls.

I took these photos the day after the demolition began of the parts of the building that were still standing.

Even with a construction fence surrounding it, the Lidgerwood Building looked beautiful from the corner of Coffey and Ferris streets.

Spring posies brighten the view of what’s left of the Lidgerwood Building. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Spring posies brighten the view of what’s left of the Lidgerwood Building. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

When framed by flowers in Valentino Park, the foundry seemed serene and untouchable. That illusion was comforting, if only for a moment.

I also took snapshots of the rubble and gaping walls on the north side of the Lidgerwood Building. But I can’t bring myself to include them in this column. Other Brooklyn Eagle stories are peppered with my demolition pictures. Oy vey.

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A weather-beaten peninsula

I cherish Red Hook.

The weather-beaten peninsula is weighing so heavily on my mind because of the Lidgerwood Building that it’s hard to focus on other neighborhoods. As a momentary diversion, let me show you some of the eye-catching things you can find in Red Hook.

The building on the left is the Lidgerwood foundry — or what’s left of it, as seen from Valentino Pier. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The building on the left is the Lidgerwood foundry — or what’s left of it, as seen from Valentino Pier. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

I cherish Valentino Park, which is named for a heroic Brooklyn firefighter who died too young. You can see the Statue of Liberty from the pier.

I cherish the fact that there’s still lots of industry in Red Hook — and lots of 19th-century industrial real estate.

I cherish the presence of magnificent cruise ships like the Queen Mary 2 that make Red Hook a port of call. You can spot them from a couple blocks away.

All hail the Queen Mary 2. Red Hook is one of its ports of call. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
All hail the Queen Mary 2. Red Hook is one of its ports of call. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Ship ahoy

I love that there are not one, but two floating museums in this shoreline neighborhood.

The Mary A. Whalen is a decommissioned oil tanker that activist Carolina Salguero has transformed into a museum and floating cultural center.

Waterway-centric nonprofit PortSide NewYork operates it. The tanker is easy to find — NYC Ferry built a dock right alongside it.

The Mary A. Whalen is a Red Hook shoreline museum and floating cultural center. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The Mary A. Whalen is a Red Hook shoreline museum and floating cultural center. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

The other floating cultural institution is the Waterfront Museum, aka the Lehigh Valley Railroad Barge #79.

The red-painted wooden barge is about a century old. It’s tied up on the shoreline beside Fairway Supermarket, which is located in one of my favorite Red Hook buildings.

Fairway Market is located in the picturesque Red Hook Stores. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Fairway Market is located in the picturesque Red Hook Stores. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

I cherish the neighborhood’s iconic storehouses that were built to handle goods transported on the Erie Canal. Fairway Market is located in the one called the Red Hook Stores.

To get from there to the Merchant Stores, you can walk along a waterside pathway that runs through the Pier 44 Waterfront Garden.

 Here’s a flower-filled view of the Merchant Stores. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Here’s a flower-filled view of the Merchant Stores. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Entrepreneurs and hurricane resilience

I love the energy of Van Brunt Street. Entrepreneurs there operate art galleries, a bookstore, delis, bars and restaurants such as Fort Defiance and a plant shop called Chelsea Garden Center.

Everybody’s out on Van Brunt Street. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Everybody’s out on Van Brunt Street. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Many merchants on this commercial corridor and elsewhere in Red Hook struggled after Superstorm Sandy but have since made a comeback.

Brooklyn Crab is built on stilts and therefore was largely spared the ravages of Sandy-related flooding.

Eat, drink and be merry at Brooklyn Crab. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Eat, drink and be merry at Brooklyn Crab. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

I also cherish the aquatic scenery you can see during NYC Ferry rides in and out of Red Hook. Gantry cranes line the Brooklyn shore. The World Trade Center shimmers in the distance.

The ferry is the neighborhood’s most convenient form of public transportation. As everyone knows, the closest subway stop is far away and bus service is irritatingly infrequent.

The views on NYC Ferry’s Red Hook route are inspiring. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
The views on NYC Ferry’s Red Hook route are inspiring. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

 

Follow reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.

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