Red Hook History

Red Hook is part of the area known as South Brooklyn, though it is northwest of the geographic center of the modern borough. It is a peninsula between Buttermilk Channel, Gowanus Bay and Gowanus Canal at the southern edge of Downtown Brooklyn. Red Hook is the only part of New York City that has a full frontal view of the Statue of Liberty, which was oriented to face France, the country which donated the statue to the United States following the centennial of the United States.

Before annexation into the 12th Ward of Brooklyn, Red Hook was a separate village. It is named for the red clay soil and the point of land projecting into the East River. The village was settled by the Dutch colonists of New Amsterdam in 1636, and named Roode Hoek. In Dutch “Hoek” means “point” or “corner” and not the English hook (i.e., not something curved or bent).In the 1880s to the present time, people who live in the Eastern area of Red Hook refer to their neighborhood as “The Point” Today, the area is home to about 11,000 people.

Rapeleye Street in Red Hook marks the beginnings of one of New Amsterdam’s earliest families, the Rapelje clan, descended from the first European child born in the new Dutch settlement in the New World, Sarah Rapelje. A couple of decades after the birth of his daughter Sarah, Joris Jansen Rapelje removed to Brooklyn, where he was one of the Council of twelve men, and where he was soon joined by son-in-law Hans Hansen Bergen. Rapelye Street in Red Hook is named for Rapelje and his descendants, who lived in Brooklyn for centuries.

In the 1990s LIFE named Red Hook as one of the “worst” neighborhoods in the United States and as “the crack capital of America.” Patrick Daly, the Principal of P.S. 15, was killed in 1992, in the crossfire of a drug-related shooting while looking for a pupil who had left his school. The school was later renamed the Patrick Daly school after the beloved principal. Red Hook is the site of the largest public housing development in Brooklyn, the Red Hook Houses which accommodate roughly 5,000 residents. Red Hook’s current eclectic mix of living artists[who?][clarification needed] and industrial businesses create a neighborhood coined “Residustrial” in 2008 by artist and resident John P. Missale. Red Hook also contains several parks, including Red Hook Park.


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