Today's Red Hook is much smaller than its original boundaries.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Red Hook point was a shipping destination. The Atlantic Basin, built in 1847 by the Atlantic Dock Company, was an enclosed safe harbor for sailing ships. The Hamilton Ferry was original started in 1846 to facilitate traffic to and from Greenwood Cemetery. The Erie Basin around the "hook" from the Atlantic Basin was opened in 1864. All three were important components in the development of the Red Hook area.Construction began on Erie Basin - the artificial harbor on which the shipyards sit - in the 1850s. Red Hook became one of the most important shipping depots in the Port of New York and served as the terminus of the shipping network that included the Erie Canal. Irish immigrant William Beard built the Red Hook Stores in the 1870s as warehouse space boomed in Erie Basin and Gowanus Bay.

In the spring of 2006, Red Hook premiered the first new major destination within one of these 19th century constructs, as the neighborhood began its ride to gentrification. Fairway opened its first Brooklyn location within the first two floors of the Red Hook Stores originally built to warehouse coffee and cotton. Greg O'Connell, a retired New York City Police Officer, has been a driving force within the neighborhood and is seeing his dream come true. In the late 1970s, O'Connell began purchasing the abandoned properties on the Red Hook waterfront, including the Red Hook Stores. Fairway was the culmination of a long dream for the developer.

In 2004, the City of New York approved a plan that allowed for Ikea to demolish all of the historic Todd Shipyards’ buildings, fill in the Red Hook Graving Dock, and clear the entire site to make way for the store and a 1,400-car parking lot. The loss was a crippling blow to the maritime industry. Until Ikea cleared the property, it was an active ship repair yard, and the company leasing it employed up to 100 people. As one of the largest graving docks in the New York Harbor, it was critical to the burgeoning maritime industry and had a replacement value of roughly one billion dollars. On June 18, 2008, Ikea opened its doors as the first superstore in Brooklyn.

The Queen Mary 2 arrived in the wee hours of the morning on April 15, 2006, for its inaugural stop at the new Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook. For the county of Kings, and particularly Red Hook, the terminal is the first step in a revitalization of the long-neglected waterfront. The sight of cruise ships on the Red Hook shoreline increased as Princess Cruise Line began docking at the location.

All images are ©Mark D Phillips. Photos may be licensed and downloaded through our site.

All images are ©Mark D Phillips. Photos may be licensed and downloaded through our site.