Off the Hook

Sunday, May 6th, 2007 | All Things, NYC History

I joined up for a walk through Red Hook — the peninsula edged by Buttermilk Channel (which separates Brooklyn from Governors Island), Gowanus Bay and the Gowanus Canal at the southern edge of Downtown Brooklyn. The event was sponsored by TAWNY — that’s Take a Walk, New York! — the Neighborhood Open Space Coalition and the Bette Midler-founded New York Restoration Project.

The advertised “light-hearted prowl” — part stroll, part history lesson — began bright and early this sunny morning at the Smith/9th Street station; at 91 feet, it’s the highest elevated stop in the subway system, owing to an antiquated regulation to allow for tall-mast shipping beneath the rails. Good thing for all those clipper ships that sail through Gowanus Creek… (pause)… not!

Smith Street Station

Red Hook native Dave Lutz brought our group — at over two dozen strong, a surprising turnout for 10:00 AM on a Sunday morning — through cobblestoned, residential and industrial streets, past “waterfront” parks… from which the public is blocked access to the waterfront.

Red Hook FDNY

On through the Red Hook Houses, one of the largest public housing projects in the country, first built as a Federal Works Program initiative under FDR. Quite a lot has changed in the area over the past several years, but old perceptions die hard; at one point, one of the walk participants muttered that we should have brought bulletproof vests, earning himself a prompt chiding from our local walk leader.

Clinton and Bush

We stopped in at the Red Hook Commmunity Farm and the Sol Goldman Pool (still closed for the season) which opened in 1936, as one of the 11 WPA-funded pools opened under Mayor Fiorello H. Laguardia and Parks Commissioner Robert Moses. Last summer, photographs of the then-named “Red Hook Pool” were included in an exhibit on the city’s public pools at Central Park’s Arsenal Gallery.

Which reminds me that there are still a couple more weeks to check out the exhibitions on Moses (whose Gowanus Expressway cut off Red Hook from Brooklyn proper in 1946) at the Queens Museum and the Museum of the City of New York.

Red Hook Pool

I’d read so much about the variety and quality of food available from the stalls surrounding the Red Hook ball fields that I could hardly believe that I finally made it to this foodie paradise. Unfortunately, my stomach couldn’t quite handle the tacos, enchiladas, huaraches, pupusas, ceviche and grilled corn at this early hour, so I was relegated to just taking in the sights and smells. This time.

Red Hook Ballpark vendor

Red Hook Ballpark vendor

We were brought past the historic shipyard, before which Lutz briefly mounted his soapbox to deliver his unvarnished views on the negative impact a big (blue) box retailer, and accompanying vehicular traffic, would have on this neighborhood with no direct subway access.

Red Hook Waterfront

There are 2 Comments ... Off the Hook

May 17, 2007

Is it the angle or are the corns grilling HUGE?

May 17, 2007

Haha! Partly the angle, I think, though they were pretty robust specimens — buttered, slathered with mayonnaise, and sprinkled with cheese and chili powder.

Go for it ...