4. Little Red Lighthouse
Although gentle breezes and quiet picnics draw attention away from its urban location, the adorable Little Red Lighthouse (officially Jeffrey’s Hook Light) serves as a stalwart symbol of maritime history. Located in Fort Washington Park beneath the George Washington Bridge, the century-old lighthouse, measuring 40-feet, was originally built in 1880 to guide ships from Sandy Hook, New Jersey using a 1,000 pound fog bell and a red flashing light. In 1917, the lighthouse became obsolete and was withdrawn from service.
Back in 1921, the existing navigational aids on the Hudson River were insufficient, so the U.S. Coast Guard disassembled and moved the lighthouse to its current location west of Washington Heights. But the construction of the “Great Gray” George Washington Bridge also rendered this location obsolete, just ten years after the move. Because of the sheer scale of the bridge and its construction, the light atop Jeffrey’s Hook became ineffective for any significant navigation.
Its nickname, the Little Red Lighthouse, derives from the children’s book The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde Swift and Lynd Ward, written in 1942. It would be this book, beloved by schoolchildren, that catalyzed advocacy for its preservation in the 1950s. Today, it is maintained by the Parks Department, which infrequently opens the lighthouse to the public during occasional open houses events.
For photos inside the Little Red Lighthouse, click here.
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