A waterfront blog about Red Hook, Brooklyn. From Columbia Street to the Van Brunt Stores and from Valentino Pier to Red Hook Rec Center.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Welcome to Red Hook

Hello, and welcome to Wouter Van Twiller's! My intention is for this to be a blog mostly about Red Hook, Brooklyn. I've only been a Red Hook resident for a little while - a couple of months, but there seems to be so much going on that it might be worth trying to keep track of it all. I'm no insider to the development scene so I don't expect to have any scoops on what's going on with any of the big projects - 160 Imlay, Ikea, Fairway, etc - but I'll try to post what I hear.

Its likely that I'll also post occasionally on politics, linux, New York in general, and the Balkans. Maybe other stuff as well.

As for Red Hook, maybe its be a good idea to talk about how we ended up here, on the edge of South Brooklyn. My wife and I used to live in Winsdor Terrace which is probably about as different you can get to from Red Hook and still be in Brooklyn. We hadn't planned on moving, but push came to shove so it ended up that we were in a position to move. Our first inclination was to stay in Windsor Terrace, but rents were going up and it just seemed time to try a new neighborhood. We'd been to Red Hook, just to sort of check it out. The place sort of jumped out at us as an interesting place to live. So we looked at a couple of places down here and decided to give it shot.

It has proven to be interesting. Its a fascinating place. For those of you who don't know the area, its right on the Brooklyn waterfront. In someways its one of the oldest named places in Brooklyn - it was originally purchased from the local Lenape people by Wouter Van Twiller in 1636. At the time Van Twiller was the Governor of the colony of New Amsterdam. Red Hook was the site of Fort Defiance, which in 1776, fired on the armada of British Admiral Howe, driving the armada back and forcing Howe to abandon his efforts to land his forces further up river. The current Valentino Park and Pier appears to be on the site of the former Fort Defiance Community Park. Its unclear if this was the actual site of Fort Defiance.

As far as I can tell, Red Hook really took off as a shipping area after the US Civil War. Most of the larger and more beautiful buildings -- the Beard Street Stores, the Van Brunt Stores, and much of the larger red brick warehouses -- seem to be from the Civil War era. The folks at the WaterFront Museum can tell you a lot more about the workings of the old waterfront. Its worth giving the WaterFront Museum a visit - they're based in a beautiful old barge that's tied up just below the Red Hook Fields and can tell you all you'll need to know about the Red Hook waterfront.

Okay, that's it for now. There is a lot more history of Red Hook worth posting but I'll leave it there for today and try to get more up tomorrow


Anonymous Anonymous said...

cool thanks for making a blog about the neighborhood.
it's neat, there's so much going on and yet when you walk about it's like nothing is going on as well.

nice to meet you neighbor

Fri Dec 10, 01:21:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

what do you in regards to linux. i recently moved to the neighborhood to. I use SuSe ;)

Sat Dec 11, 03:55:00 PM

Blogger Harry "Hey Chef" Hawk said...

A village voice article refers to the area near Schnack and Alma as Red Mills, (Rode Mollen), but I have been unable to find anything that supports this.

Red Hook (Rode Hoek) means Red Corner or Point in Dutch. Red Hook in Brooklyn was an Island ie.g, was not part of Long Island until 'land fill' bridged the two...

What is clear, from it's days a seperate Island, once you got past the 1840's or so, and through at least the 1940's.. Red Hook strengthed far and wide. Some say as far as Atlantic and Smith Street. It's worth noting that the term Carroll Gardens dates only from the 1960's.

Sun Dec 19, 01:16:00 PM

Blogger David Swell said...

"Red Hook (Rode Hoek) means Red Corner or Point in Dutch"

This is correct, but the reason why they named it “Red Hook” was the color of the clay dirt that make up the land mass. There are two “hooks” you need to navigate your ship getting into NY harbor. The first was “Yellow Hook” for its yellowish dirt. Now known as Bay Ridge. The reason for the name change was when yellow fever hit NY they decided to change the name because people didn’t want to live or visit the area because they thought people had yellow fever there. Anything with yellow in the name was changes at the time.

The other hook into NY harbor was Red Hook. That’s how it got its name. By the color of the dirt. Pretty funny hay? I’m a fourth Generation Bay Ridge’er and have “Cliff Clavin” knowledge of everything Brooklyn.

Wed Jan 12, 03:39:00 PM

Anonymous white said...

Hi Wouter Van Twiller, I am enjoying some idle time and looking to see what green will bring up. Hey Chef is certainly interesting and informative. green is a good word to bring into the conversation. Great post. Enjoy your day!

Sun Dec 04, 03:25:00 PM


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