New York in New York County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The Little Red Lighthouse
Fort Washington Park
The Little Red Lighthouse stopped being used as a functional lighthouse long ago, but over the years this 40-foot-high structure has become a beacon of another kind. Located underneath the George Washington Bridge along this treacherous section of the Hudson River once known as Jeffrey’s Hook, this is one of the few surviving lighthouses in New York City and serves as a quaint reminder of the area’s history.
Long ago, Native Americans known locally as the Wiechquaesgeck-part of the Lenape tribe-inhabited much of upper Manhattan and eastern New Jersey. The Wichquaesgeck, and later the Dutch and English colonists, fished and hunted along the banks of the Hudson River. The Hudson was also an important route for travel, connecting upstate cities such as Albany to New York City and the Atlantic Ocean. As traffic increased along the river, so did the number of shipwrecks at Jeffrey’s Hook. In an attempt to reduce accidents, a red pole was placed at Jeffrey’s Hook jutting out over the river to warn travelers of danger. In 1889, two 10-candlepower lanterns were placed on the pole to aid navigation. Much of the land surrounding the lighthouse, including the riverbanks of Jeffrey’s Hook, was acquired by the City in 1896, and became known as Fort Washington Park.
In the early 20th century, barge captains carrying goods up and down
The Coast Guard planned to auction off the lighthouse, but an outpouring of support for the beacon helped save it. The outcry from the public was prompted by the children’s book, The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge, written by Hildegarde Swift and Lynd Ward in 1942. In the popular book, the Little Red Lighthouse is happy and content until a great bridge is built over it. In the end, the lighthouse learns that it still has an important job to do and that there is still a place in the world for an old lighthouse. The classic tale captured the imaginations of children
On July 23, 1951, the Coast Guard gave the property to Parks, and on May 29, 1979, the Little Red Lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It did not receive much attention over the years, until City Comptroller Harrison J. Goldin worked with Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern to find funding for its restoration. In 1986, Parks hosted a party in honor of the lighthouse’s 65th anniversary and to celebrate a $209,000 renovation of the lighthouse that included reconstruction of the concrete foundation and the installation of new steel doors. In the year 2000, the lighthouse received a fresh coat of red paint that is true to its original, historic color, along with new interior lighting and electric lines. Today, the Little Red Lighthouse remains a stalwart symbol of the area’s heritage, lighting the way into the city’s past.
The Little Red Lighthouse is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and is a member of the Historic House Trust of New York City.
Erected 2004 by City of New York Department of Parks & Recreation.
Location. 40° 51.014′ N, 73° 56.818′ W. Marker is in New York, New York, in New York Touch for map. Marker is in Fort Washington Park, under the George Washington Bridge. The park can be reached from Riverside Drive near 181st Street via a footbridge over the Henry Hudson Parkway. Marker is in this post office area: New York NY 10033, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Story of a Lighthouse (within shouting distance of this marker); The Light Still Shines (within shouting distance of this marker); American Redoubt (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Plaza Lafayette (approx. 0.3 miles away); Highest Point on Manhattan (approx. half a mile away); Robert Magaw Defended this Position (approx. half a mile away); Fort Washington (approx. half a mile away); Site of Hilltop Park (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New York.
Categories. • Man-Made Features • Native Americans • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on April 10, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 582 times since then and 26 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on April 10, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.