By Suzanne Spellen (aka Montrose Morris)
Long before Red Hook got its name, when the Lenape people would fish near the entrance to what is now the East River, it was a marshy swamp. This area of what would some day become South Brooklyn looked more like the Mississippi Delta than the defined waterfront we see today. Old maps show all sorts of tidal ponds, streams, and acres of marshland where the Gowanus Creek opened out into the bay.
There was one large landmass near the shore called Cypress Tree Island. On that island was a hill about 50 feet high from which one could see for miles.
This is the story of how a hill in a swamp gave Red Hook its name, and how a fort on that hill — Fort Defiance — kept the British from capturing George Washington and winning the Revolutionary War.