Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Little Red Lighthouse

Last week was my third time to walk to the Little Red Lighthouse, Manhattan's only remaining lighthouse, and also my third time to get lost.  I really need to pay attention when reading directions. 

The Little Red Lighthouse stands on Jeffrey’s Hook, a small point of land that supports the base of the eastern pier of the George Washington Bridge, which connects upper Manhattan to New Jersey.

It is often referred to as the Little Red Lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge, so when I first tried to visit and saw myself going up the ramp to the bridge, I knew I was lost. These were pics I took last year when I first tried to find the lighthouse. 

The ramp leading to the bridge walkway ..

and the pedestrian walkway of the George Washington Bridge (GWB).

Maybe I tend to forget the directions because the lighthouse is open only five times each year, every second Saturday of the months of June until October, according to the friendly park ranger on duty that day, Sunny. Here she is showing me the key to the lighthouse.

The lighthouse was first built in Sandy Hook, NJ in 1880.  It was dismantled in 1917 and in 1921, the US Coast Guard reconstructed it on its current location to improve navigational aids on the Hudson River.  When the GWB opened ten years later, the brighter lights of the bridge made the lighthouse obsolete and it was decommissioned. 

The lighthouse was supposed to be auctioned off but the public wanted to save it, thanks to the popular children's book, The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge, written by Hildegarde Swift and Lynd Ward in 1942. So now it proudly stands underneath the bridge.

To get to the lighthouse, take the A train to the 181st St/Fort Washington station,then walk west along 181st Street until you see a pedestrian walkway just off to the right.  This pic was taken after I crossed the walkway, the lighthouse is accessible only to pedestrians and bikers.

The path to the lighthouse is steep and sloping.

You have to pass a little tunnel ..

and a wooden bridge that spans across the Amtrak rails underneath.

The pathway, which is along the Henry Hudson Greenway like Fort Tryon Park, also gives you great views of the New Jersey Palisades.

Along the way are plants and trees, the occasional flower, and raspberries (?) These were growing near the end of the wooden bridge.

Finally, a first glimpse of the lighthouse!

The path to the lighthouse is narrow, just enough for a single person or bicycle to pass through.

There it is, a beauty in red! You can see the park rangers standing on the walkway above.

Inside the lighthouse are posters about Hudson River and also the history of the lighthouse.

A view from below of the spiral stairs leading to the top.

So up the stairs I go. At the middle point it becomes narrow, only a single person could pass.  The top of the stairs lead to a landing, where some portholes are located. At that landing is another set of stairs, very steep stairs, that leads to the hatch above.

When you get through the hatch, it opens to the area where the lamp is.

To get to the walkway around the top of the lighthouse is another small opening, kids love it, though.

The walkway offers great views of the horizon and the underbelly of the George Washington Bridge.

At the distance by the horizon, you can almost see Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan meet with Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

The walkway of the lighthouse is also painted red ..

You can see the rocks below that makes this part of the Hudson River treacherous.

And part of Fort Washington Park near the lighthouse area.

The lighthouse is open only from one to four o'clock in the afternoon. By 4 pm the park rangers got ready to close the lighthouse, time for me to leave, too.  One last shot of the spiral staircase ..

and the lighthouse's red door.

One last walk around the outside perimeter of the lighthouse.

The lighthouse is now closed, to be open again next month, on the second Saturday.

Outside the lighthouse is this marker ..

and on the grounds of the park are two signs detailing the history of the lighthouse and citing a part of the book.  It has also an illustration of what the inside of the lighthouse looks like.

I went around Fort Washington Park a bit, just the part near the lighthouse.  There were tennis courts, benches and lots of picnic areas. The part of the park  facing the Hudson River reminded me of my walk along Cherry Walk last March.

One more pic of the underbelly of the GWB taken from the pathway.

And the little red lighthouse in between some trees.

I'll be back, hopefully, I won't get lost again.

For more pics of the Little Red Lighthouse and the George Washington Bridge, here's my set on Flickr.


  1. Great pictures and information! I will have to visit one day. And I, too, will probably get lost. :)

  2. Thank you! Do come and visit, even if the road is somewhat winding, it's worth it! And I hope you won't get lost. :)