The Little Red Lighthouse

Nestled under the George Washington Bridge in Fort Washington Park, sits The Little Red Lighthouse. It has been long since the last time this tiny beacon was used for its original purpose, but still it stands as an iconic piece of Manhattan alongside the Hudson River.

Photo By Sara Gershon


As the Hudson River became a highly trafficked route for traveling between upstate Albany, and New York City, the number of ship accidents increased, specifically in the area called, Jeffrey’s Hook, the site the Little Red Lighthouse currently sits on. In an effort to make sailors more aware of the danger of becoming shipwrecked, a red pole with two lanterns was placed on Jeffrey’s Hook.

Meanwhile, The Little Red Lighthouse had been erected in New Jersey, and was being used there. However, by 1917 the lighthouse was taken down.

Photo By Sara Gershon

Back in New York, barge captains were calling for a brighter beacon to direct traffic. The Coast Guard rebuilt this lighthouse in its new home and named it Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse. It was put to use from 1921 until it was extinguished in 1948. It was useless from 1931 until the day it went out, because in 1931, the George Washington Bridge was built and the light from the Lighthouse could never compete with the bright lights of the bridge.

After it was decommissioned, the Coast Guard planned to sell the Lighthouse, but the public moved to stop its sale. Three years later, the Coast Guard sold the lighthouse to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, who then added it to the National Register of Historical Places in the late 1970’s.

Overtime, the lighthouse received little attention, but in 1986, its 65th anniversary celebration brought the lighthouse some much needed renovation and fixing up. More recently, in 2000, the lighthouse was repainted its original shade of red.

Photo By Sara Gershon

Today, this tiny beacon of Manhattan carries tourists off the beaten path and into a little piece of beauty. Standing no taller than 40 feet high, this lighthouse guides people to the panoramic views and breathtaking experiences Manhattan has to offer.

“The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge”

In 1942, Hildegarde H. Swift and Lynd Ward wrote and illustrated a children’s book about the little lighthouse and its friendship with the big bridge. In the book, the lights on the bridge go out, and the little lighthouse helps the bridge by lighting the way for the passing ships. This book was a huge hit with children all over.

When the Coast Guard was putting the lighthouse up for auction, children sent dimes, nickels, and pennies to support the lighthouse and keep it from being sold and dismantled.