Perhaps one of Brooklyn’s least-visited neighborhoods, Red Hook is a peninsula in northwestern Brooklyn. Red Hook played a major role in the American Revolution and was a large industrial site before its decline and revitalization in the 1900s and 2000s. Red Hook has seen rapid development recently with the 2008 opening of a controversial IKEA. Today, unique food destinations including Red Hook Winery, Widow Jane Distillery, Steve’s Key Lime Pies, and Red Hook Lobster Pound are popular options, many in old warehouses or Civil War-era buildings. From robotic art studios to abandoned trolleys to a museum on a barge, here are 10 secrets about Red Hook.
1. You can visit an abandoned trolley from the Boston Green Line
On the Red Hook waterfront behind Beard Warehouse Food Bazaar is the last remnant of an experiment to bring back trolleys to Brooklyn. Urban explorer Bob Diamond, who discovered the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel, wanted to revive the Red Hook trolley line that ran to Atlantic Terminal and Downtown Brooklyn. Diamond and Gregory Costillo founded the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association (BHRA), which collected seventeen decommissioned trolleys and constructed new tracks along the Red Hook waterfront. The O’Connell Organization, which owns and operates many of the historic buildings in the neighborhood, including the Merchant Stores Building, provided support for the project.
For a period of time, a one-mile loop of trolley track went from nearby warehouses into Red Hook along Conover Street and Van Brunt Street. The city determined, though, that trolleys were not the best option for improving transit access in Red Hook, and the rail tracks were quickly removed. Four trolleys remained on the Red Hook waterfront, although Hurricane Sandy damaged them, and the O’Connell Organization later donated the trolleys. The one remaining trolley is the 3303 Boston T Green Line car dating from 1951, which was subsequently painted blue. The trolley car now reads NO STOPS on its front placard, and doors are in rough shape and locked.