Monday, February 16, 2015

Jeffrey's Hook Light (aka The Little Red Lighthouse)

Under the New York side of the George Washington Bridge is a small parcel of land known as Jeffrey's Hook, located in a section of Fort Washington Park called Ft. Washington Point. There, you will find what many call the "Little Red Lighthouse", whose formal name is the Jeffrey's Hook Light.

In 1889, before the city even acquired the area as a park (1896), the local government placed a red pole, which stretched out over the river, to prevent accidents.

Though it was originally constructed as the North Hook Beacon at Sandy Hook, NJ in 1880, it was moved to where it is now in 1921 by the Coast Guard, so as to replace the pole.
Sadly, upon the completion of the GW Bridge in 1931, it was deemed antiquated, as the bridge contained navigational lights.

The lighthouse's last official use was in 1948, as it was deactivated, with a plan to auction it off. The public complained - thanks in part to admirers of the 1942 children's book, The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge, by Hildegarde Swift - and the Coast Guard finally donated the structure to the city's Department of Parks and Recreation in 1951. Jeffrey's Hook Light was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, and gained landmark status in 1991.

Tours of the house are sometimes provided by the Parks Department's Urban Park Rangers, once a month, between June and October, as well as on Little Red Lighthouse Festival Day (a 3-day celebration in October), and Open House New York Day (another 3-day event held in October).
In 2002, the beam of New York City's only remaining lighthouse was reactivated, and still gleams today.