Still Hard to Get To, but No Longer Red: How Red Hook Got Its Name

160 Imlay. Photo via Adjmi & Andreoli’s design presentation


Brownstoner takes on Brooklyn history in Nabe Names, a series of briefs on the origins and surprising stories of neighborhood nomenclature.

One of Brooklyn’s many former industrial hubs, Red Hook’s long-underused and abandoned waterfront warehouses are now seeing a transformation into luxury apartments.

Notoriously isolated from public transit, the area still clings to its industrial charm, with modern neighborhood additions like Fairway Market and the IKEA store starkly contrasting to the adjacent hulk of the Red Hook Grain Terminal — a long-unused maritime facility that has served as the set for many a film and music video.

Once a central port and hub of shipping activity, Red Hook, like Greenpoint and Yellow Hook — Bay Ridge’s original name — is so titled because of its colorful, pointed peninsula. Sailors navigating the nabe’s adjacent waters clearly noted the red clay soil covering its edged peninsula, and the area was titled Roode Hoek, Dutch for “red point.”

While Red Hook remains difficult to access for many, its waterfront views and growing food-destination status make it increasingly worth the trek. Indeed, the waterfront isolation brings with it a certain solitude, especially impressive for such a prime real estate area. Even the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, historically dividing the neighborhood from the rest of Brooklyn, can be a source of peace; from behind closed eyelids, it sounds like the ocean.

The view from the top floor of the abandoned Red Hook Grain Terminal. Photo by Hannah Frishberg

View from the top floor of the abandoned Red Hook Grain Terminal. Photo by Hannah Frishberg

Red Hook

160 Imlay Street. Photo via Adjmi & Andreoli’s design presentation

Red Hook

View from the roof of 160 Imlay Street, overlooking Red Hook and beyond to Manhattan. Photo by Hannah Frishberg

Related Stories
Brooklyn’s First Tesla Showroom Is Coming to Transit-Starved Slice of Red Hook
A Guide to Visiting Red Hook’s Secret Oasis, Pioneer Works Gallery and Garden
Revisiting the Red Hook IKEA Controversy 10 Years Later

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