clock menu more-arrow no yes

Walk Through Red Hook's Industrial Past With These 8 Gems

View as Map

Welcome to the latest installment of Neighborhood Tours, a feature in which Curbed maps out architecturally interesting buildings and sites ripe for an exploratory weekend jaunt. Up next: Red Hook. Have other areas you'd like to see covered? Let us know.

The still-largely industrial neighborhood of Red Hook is on the brink of change. Insulated from brownstone Brooklyn darling Carroll Gardens by the Brooklyn-Queens and Gowanus expressways, the neighborhood in years past has transformed at a snails pace compared to its easier-to-access surrounds. But with new developments like Est4te Four's luxury condo conversion of 160 Imlay Street setting a new price precedent in the neighborhood—and selling rapidly at that—eyes (and developers' wallets) are turning to the sequestered 'hood. The neighborhood's major challenges—its lack of direct access to the subway and its vulnerability to storm surge—won't be changing any time soon, but we can't say the same for its built environment. Now, before it gets too cold, throw on that jacket and discover eight of the buildings that illuminate Red Hook's industrial past and will likely play into its refined future.


· All Red Hook coverage [Curbed]

Read More

1. Red Hook Grain Terminal

Copy Link
80 Halleck St
Brooklyn, NY 11231

This off-limits structure at the mouth of the Gowanus Canal has had a tumultuous history. Built in 1922, the grain silo traded hands to the Port Authority in 1944 after failing to turn a profit. The 12-story high, 430-foot long terminal was decommissioned in 1965, and has sat vacant since. The large building now attracts visitors of the curious variety, like photographers and urban explorers. "It's just amazing to see a structure like this in a city where it no longer belongs. It's seeing two New Yorks," photographer Ali Hussain said about his incredible photos from inside the factory. Those photos are about as close as anyone's going to get to the building nowadays. There are no plans in the works for the looming structure.

2. Erie Basin Park

Copy Link
1 Beard St
Brooklyn, NY 11231

The neighborhood's Erie Basin Park may be new, but remnants of the waterfront site's former life still exist. The park was developed by Ikea as a concession to the neighborhood after it established its brand there on the former site of the historic Todd Shipyard, a boat repair yard that had been operational since the Civil War. All that remains of the site's past are some gigantic and alluring industrial lifts, now flanked by landscaped surrounds with lots of seating.

3. Beard St. Warehouses

Copy Link
141 Beard St., 481 Van Brunt St., 499 Van Brunt St
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(718) 624-0160

These Civil War-era structures were built by Jeremiah P. Robinson and William Beard in the 1860s and 70s. Today, they're split into smaller commercial and industrial spaces.

4. Red Hook Trolley Cars

Copy Link
500 Van Brunt Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

The trolley cars tucked behind Fairway Market at the Red Hook waterfront may seem oddly placed, and they are; but they were never meant to remain there. The trolley cars are a remnant of Brooklyn explorer Bob Diamond's plan to build a rail line connecting Red Hook with Downtown Brooklyn. With cooperation from the city, Diamond began to amass the 1897 F. Schuckert and Co. trolleys and build track in the 1990's. The city cut its funding to Diamond's project, and Diamond was not able to sustain it independently. The trolley's were eventually evicted from the nearby warehouse where they were being stored and left at their new waterfront locale. Image via Forgotten NY.

5. Red Hook Winery

Copy Link
Pier 41
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Remember, this is theoretically a walking tour so this stop is to help participants get warm. The winery is in Pier 41 which was built in the 1870s by Col. Daniel Richards as a shipping warehouse center. Bask in the building's history (and excellent views) while warming up with its libations.

6. Louis Valentino, Jr. Park & Pier

Copy Link
Coffey St & Ferris St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Now a park named after a firefighter killed in the line of duty, this land was formerly part of the historic Fort Defiance used in 1776's Battle of Brooklyn. The fort was "situated in such a manner as to command the harbor entirely" and was damaged gravely in battle on August 27, 1776. Nowadays, the pier and park have lovely views out to the statue of liberty and Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. It's also a hop, skip, and jump away from Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies.

7. Pioneer Works

Copy Link
159 Pioneer St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(718) 596-3000
Visit Website

Now home to an interdisciplinary art gallery, the building at 159 Pioneer Street was once the home of Pioneer Iron Works, which the gallery's website describes as "one of the largest machine manufacturers in the United States—constructing ships, boilers, tanks, sheet iron, detachable railroad tracks, grain elevators, and machinery for sugar plantations." Built in 1866, the building was decimated by a fire in 1881 and rebuilt soon after. Pioneer Iron Works occupied the space until the mid-1900s, after which Time Moving Company used the building for storage.

8. New York Dock Co

Copy Link
160 Imlay Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Quick! Before Est4te Four's renovation of the warehouse at 160 Imlay Street into luxury condos progresses any further, go check out the the buildings that used to store a variety of goods that would come into and go out of the adjacent port in the early 1900s. During World War I, the Dock warehouse at 162 Imlay Street was used as a government army base. Brownstoner reported in 2013 that 162 Imlay is currently used by Christie's Auction House as an art storage warehouse.

Loading comments...

1. Red Hook Grain Terminal

80 Halleck St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

This off-limits structure at the mouth of the Gowanus Canal has had a tumultuous history. Built in 1922, the grain silo traded hands to the Port Authority in 1944 after failing to turn a profit. The 12-story high, 430-foot long terminal was decommissioned in 1965, and has sat vacant since. The large building now attracts visitors of the curious variety, like photographers and urban explorers. "It's just amazing to see a structure like this in a city where it no longer belongs. It's seeing two New Yorks," photographer Ali Hussain said about his incredible photos from inside the factory. Those photos are about as close as anyone's going to get to the building nowadays. There are no plans in the works for the looming structure.

80 Halleck St
Brooklyn, NY 11231

2. Erie Basin Park

1 Beard St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

The neighborhood's Erie Basin Park may be new, but remnants of the waterfront site's former life still exist. The park was developed by Ikea as a concession to the neighborhood after it established its brand there on the former site of the historic Todd Shipyard, a boat repair yard that had been operational since the Civil War. All that remains of the site's past are some gigantic and alluring industrial lifts, now flanked by landscaped surrounds with lots of seating.

1 Beard St
Brooklyn, NY 11231

3. Beard St. Warehouses

141 Beard St., 481 Van Brunt St., 499 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

These Civil War-era structures were built by Jeremiah P. Robinson and William Beard in the 1860s and 70s. Today, they're split into smaller commercial and industrial spaces.

141 Beard St., 481 Van Brunt St., 499 Van Brunt St
Brooklyn, NY 11231

4. Red Hook Trolley Cars

500 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231

The trolley cars tucked behind Fairway Market at the Red Hook waterfront may seem oddly placed, and they are; but they were never meant to remain there. The trolley cars are a remnant of Brooklyn explorer Bob Diamond's plan to build a rail line connecting Red Hook with Downtown Brooklyn. With cooperation from the city, Diamond began to amass the 1897 F. Schuckert and Co. trolleys and build track in the 1990's. The city cut its funding to Diamond's project, and Diamond was not able to sustain it independently. The trolley's were eventually evicted from the nearby warehouse where they were being stored and left at their new waterfront locale. Image via Forgotten NY.

500 Van Brunt Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

5. Red Hook Winery

Pier 41, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Remember, this is theoretically a walking tour so this stop is to help participants get warm. The winery is in Pier 41 which was built in the 1870s by Col. Daniel Richards as a shipping warehouse center. Bask in the building's history (and excellent views) while warming up with its libations.

Pier 41
Brooklyn, NY 11231

6. Louis Valentino, Jr. Park & Pier

Coffey St & Ferris St., Brooklyn, NY 11231

Now a park named after a firefighter killed in the line of duty, this land was formerly part of the historic Fort Defiance used in 1776's Battle of Brooklyn. The fort was "situated in such a manner as to command the harbor entirely" and was damaged gravely in battle on August 27, 1776. Nowadays, the pier and park have lovely views out to the statue of liberty and Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. It's also a hop, skip, and jump away from Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies.

Coffey St & Ferris St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231

7. Pioneer Works

159 Pioneer St., Brooklyn, NY 11231

Now home to an interdisciplinary art gallery, the building at 159 Pioneer Street was once the home of Pioneer Iron Works, which the gallery's website describes as "one of the largest machine manufacturers in the United States—constructing ships, boilers, tanks, sheet iron, detachable railroad tracks, grain elevators, and machinery for sugar plantations." Built in 1866, the building was decimated by a fire in 1881 and rebuilt soon after. Pioneer Iron Works occupied the space until the mid-1900s, after which Time Moving Company used the building for storage.

159 Pioneer St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231

8. New York Dock Co

160 Imlay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Quick! Before Est4te Four's renovation of the warehouse at 160 Imlay Street into luxury condos progresses any further, go check out the the buildings that used to store a variety of goods that would come into and go out of the adjacent port in the early 1900s. During World War I, the Dock warehouse at 162 Imlay Street was used as a government army base. Brownstoner reported in 2013 that 162 Imlay is currently used by Christie's Auction House as an art storage warehouse.

160 Imlay Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231