*© 2010 RC deWinter ~ All Rights Reserved
A river-level view of The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge.
That is the title of a classic children’s book by Hildegard Swift and Lynd Ward, the popularity of which contributed greatly to the restoration and conservation of, rather than the dismantling of, the Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse that sits directly underneath the George Washington Bridge on the shore of the Hudson River.
The little red lighthouse was originally built in 1889 in Sandy Hook, New Jersey and was taken down, moved and rebuilt in its current location in 1921 to aid navigation on the Hudson River; it was in use until 1947. The bridge itself was not completed until 1931, but the lighthouse was carefully preserved during construction.
In 1951 the lighthouse was considered obsolete and demolition was planned, but the outcry from the public, many familiar with the ‘little red lighthouse’ only through the book, prevented its destruction. Instead, the City of New York’s Parks & Recreation Commission became the conservator of Jeffrey’s Hook.
Eventually the little red lighthouse was named a New York City Landmark under the purview of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and was re-lighted 2002. As early as 1979 the lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as ’Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse’.
One must read the book that inspired its reclamation to understand why ‘the little red lighthouse’ was so important to so many.
Textured digital oils from an original photograph shot in September 2003.*