The Little Red Lighthouse stopped being used as a functional lighthouse long ago, but over the years this 40-foot-high structure has become a beacon of another kind. Located underneath the George Washington Bridge along this treacherous section of the Hudson River once known as Jeffrey’s Hook, this is one of the few surviving lighthouses in New York City and serves as a quaint reminder of the area’s history.
Long ago, Native Americans known locally as the Weckquaesgeek —part of the Lenape tribe—inhabited much of upper Manhattan and eastern New Jersey. The Weckquaesgeek, and later the Dutch and English colonists, fished and hunted along the banks of the Hudson River. The Hudson was also an important route for travel, connecting upstate cities such as Albany to New York City and the Atlantic Ocean. As traffic increased along the river, so did the number of shipwrecks at Jeffrey’s Hook. In an attempt to reduce accidents, a red pole was placed at Jeffrey’s Hook jutting out over the river to warn travelers of danger. In 1889, two 10-candlepower lanterns were placed on the pole to aid navigation. Much of the land surrounding the lighthouse, including the riverbanks of Jeffrey’s Hook, was acquired by the City in 1896, and became known as Fort Washington Park.