I noticed a snazzy new pictographic sign on the Henry Hudson Parkway in Spuyten Duyvil when I was up there in March. It depicts a lighthouse on the sign, but people cognizant of local legends can see immediately that it’s the Little Red Lighthouse, known originally as the Jeffreys Hook Lighthouse, which is on the Hudson River by the Parkway just south of the George Washington Bridge.
The 40-foot tall Lighthouse was first built in 1880 and served as the North Hook Beacon off Sandy Hook, NJ in that role until 1917. It was thought obsolete at that point — and was in the line of fire from gun batteries at Fort Hancock at a time when a German invasion was not out of the question –and placed into storage, but it was reassembled in 1921 and placed here at Jeffreys Hook, then considered a dangerous spot for shipping.
The Lighthouse was overshadowed by the GWB in 1931, was decommissioned in 1947, and there was thought of demolition by 1951. However the public remembered Hildegarde Swift and Lynd Ward’s book, “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge,” in which the lighthouse (which had been feeling emotions of inadequacy) provides invaluable aid on a foggy night, and petitioned the city for its survival. By the end of that year the Lighthouse was under the jurisdiction of the NYC Department of Parks (headed by one Robert Moses).
The Lighthouse (no longer in official use, but still active) uses a blinking acteylene lamp focused by a 5th order Fresnel lens of cut glass prisms. The Lighthouse employs one second of light followed by two seconds of darkness: every active lighthouse uses a specific sequence of light and darkness. It also has a fog bell.
Little Red is accessible from Riverside Park paths, but it’s somewhat difficult to get to. This FNY page retells my experience getting there.
Are there any other NYC Parkways that have similar logos? Let me know in Comments.