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City Living: Red Hook
The best part of living in Red Hook, according to a long-term resident, is “that it takes 20 minutes to walk from my house down the block to get my morning coffee.”
The worst part is that it takes 20 minutes to make the walk. Since everyone knows each other, local errands require a string of greetings and conversations along the way.
In this nabe, isolated from the rest of the borough by geography and a roaring highway, the pace is slow, the feel is much more small-town than big city, more like a New England fishing village than a New York neighborhood.
Dutch settlers gave Red Hook its name — Roode Hoek — because of its iron-rich red soil and peninsular shape.
Van Brunt Street, the main drag and the heart and soul of 21st century Red Hook, is named after an 18th century descendant of a Dutch family that settled in the marshy area in the mid-1600s.
Red Hook was the pinnacle port in the U.S. after the opening of the Erie Canal in the 1830s. More than a hundred years later, Red Hook houses, the New York City Housing Authority development where most of Red Hook’s 11,000 residents live, was built to house some local workers.
By MARJORIE COHEN
Need To Know
One resident likes the fact that Red Hook is isolated by a shortage of public transportation: “It helps keep people away.” And Red Hook is one of the very few places in the city where a resident can park a car right in front of the house. More »
It’s at 615 Clinton Street and got only two stars on Yelp. More »
The branch at 7 Wolcott St. reopened in April 2013 after replacing nearly half the 2,500 waterlogged books. More »
South Brooklyn Community High School, 173 Conover St. More »
Red Hook is served by the NYPD's76th Precinct. Major crimes dropped over 76 percent between 1990 and 2013, according to CompStat data. More »
Hop off the 61 bus and walk right into this popular cafe. According to Julie Inzanti who works in Red Hook, “This is the staple cafe in the neighborhood with delicious treats and good coffee. It’s also the business center or dorm common area of Red Hook.” Another regular recommends their salted chocolate brownies and chocolate Coca Cola Bundt cake.
Beautifully renovated post-Sandy, this cozy little restaurant features seafood specialties lovingly prepared by chef Kevin Moore. One fan says that for brunch you’ve got to try the Chesapeake crabcake Benedict or the Adirondack Benedict — poached eggs with hollandaise on challah with a side of pan-seared trout. Be sure to check out the lovely oil on paper paintings on the walls by Kevin’s wife, Caroline Parker.
The Good Fork
This widely and well-reviewed spot is where locals take their out-of-town guests for a special treat. The menu changes regularly, featuring local and seasonal ingredients. Vegetarians are welcome: steak and eggs Korean style can be converted to tofu and eggs. Eat in or out in their backyard.
Bait & Tackle
One resident said, “If you go to Red Hook and don’t have a beer at Bait and Tackle then you really haven’t gone to Red Hook.”
Brooklyn Ice House
The Ice House has a large, funky backyard and a huge beer list and, considering the decor, an incongruous goat cheese and beet salad.
Food and drink writer St. John Frissell’s popular cafe/diner/bar named after the Revolutionary War fort that stood in Red Hook. Locals and visitors alike come for the “neoclassical” cocktails and one regular, Francis Kerrigan, says that their Irish coffee “is the best I’ve ever had.”
Dry Dock Wine and Spirits
Mary Dudine Kyle had to move her popular shop further up Van Brunt after the storm but has happily moved back to her original spot. She gets lots of out-of-borough and out-of-town shoppers who come for her supply of smaller batch wine and hard liquor from local distilleries. Ask Mary for a palm card that charts the Brooklyn Spirits Trail, a tour of local booze-making spots including Red Hook Winery and Cacao Prieto.
This lovely antique shop is the domain of Russell Whitmore who has been selling jewelry — mostly art deco and Georgian rings and necklaces — at this spot for more than six years. He has a few pieces of Victorian and Egyptial Revival furniture on display as well but it’s the jewelry that’s the real draw. Call for an appointment:
Look North NY
When you’re looking for something interesting to do when the weather makes an indoor adventure preferable, consider a visit to this gallery of Inuit art. The owner, Jim Clark, spent 15 years as first mate on an Alaskan crab boat (yes, he was on the Discovery Channel’s “The Deadliest Catch”) where he developed an interest in the art of the indigenous people of the Alaskan and Canadian Arctic.
Red Hook Flicks
Watch a movie on Valentino Pier every Tuesday night during the summer. Bring a picnic and your (quiet) dog along; buy popcorn from Home/Made and key lime pie from Steve’s and food provided by the businesses that sponsor the series. Before the movie starts, enjoy the spectacular view of Lady Liberty from the Pier — this is the only stretch of the city where you can see Lady Liberty’s face straight on.
Red Hook Recreation Area and Pool
The area is an impressive 58 acres large with handball, basketball and soccer fields always teeming with locals. But it’s the Red Hook Pool, opened in 1936 with 40,000 people watching, that’s the stand out feature. Operated by the Parks Department from the end of June to Labor Day, it’s huge with lanes for lap swimming, a kiddie pool, fountains for the kids to romp in and bleachers for the parents.