Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

“Undiscovered New York: Rambling Red Hook”

December 5th, 2008 · 1 Comment

We have to say we’re amused by this post about Red Hook, not because of what it says, but because of what it real doesn’t. The hint is the photo of the Revere dome it includes at the top, whose demolition started two years ago this month and whose site is now an empty lot that may become a BJ’s with some housing. It’s like a guide to Red Hook before the arrival of Fairway and Ikea and before Thor Equities leveled the iconic (if non-functional) sugar refinery. Here’s a sample

Welcome back to Gadling’s weekly series, Undiscovered New York. Being the global metropolis that it is, criss-crossed with highways, cargo ships and landing airplanes, you may find it hard to believe that any part of New York City could be considered isolated. But the fact of the matter is that there are still some parts of the city that could easily be labeled “the place that time forgot.” One neighborhood that holds such a distinction is Brooklyn’s Red Hook, a charmingly disheveled waterfront district cut off from the rest of the city by the BQE Expressway. Red Hook’s reputation as a working-class, hardscrabble industrial port area is well earned. From the mid 1800’s until the middle of the 20th Century, this was a thriving hub of marine-based commerce in New York City and home to around 20,000 residents, primarily longshoremen.

But by the mid 1960’s, a changing shipping industry had moved many dockworking jobs to New Jersey. The departure of these jobs from Red Hook, along with the completion of the BQE, sent the neighborhood into a period of decline. The 1970’s through the 1990’s saw the area ravaged by crime – LIFE Magazine even went so far as to declare it the “crack capital of America.”

It does mention Ikea and Real World Brooklyn and does note that the Revere Dome met its maker too, but even the photos of the Red Hook Vendor’s show last years version, before the city forced the vendors to buy standardized carts and trucks. Ironic, at least.

Tags: Red Hook

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 KeylimeSteve // Dec 6, 2008 at 7:02 am

    This doesn’t shock me at all, we’re a destination now for a different reason than we were then. I have folk coming through the shop all the time proudly exclaiming “we just discovered this place!” Fairway legitimized (certain parts of) the Hook, IKEA sanitized it.