This one-block lane is the last remnant of colonial-era Red Hook Lane, a Canarsie Indian trail that became the route from the heights of Brooklyn town through Dutch farmland to the swampy Red Hook waterfront.
Enlarge this 1760s map and you can just make out “Red Hook Lane” beneath Flatbush Avenue, where it says “Brookland Parish.”
It has Revolutionary War significance too. Red Hook Lane, an important Continental Army artery, is where George Washington watched the British outflank the Patriots at Gowanus Pass during the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776.
“Old Red Hook Lane was originally 25 feet wide, and ran from Boerum Place diagonally across Atlantic Avenue, between Court Street and Boerum Place, running near the old engine house on Pacific Street,” according to an 1894 New York Times piece.
“Then, turning, it cut the southeast corner of Pacific Street and Court Street. From there it passed along from Tompkins Place, and then to Henry Street.”
Incompatible with the urbanization of Brooklyn and an orderly street grid, Red Hook Lane (looking south, above) was slowly swallowed up by the growing city. (Red Hook in 1875, below).
A few curious reminders of its past glory remain. The odd angles of the buildings at 228 Atlantic Avenue and 234 State Street apparently reflect the path Red Hook Lane once took.
And signs for the Red Hook Lane Heritage Trail in Red Hook mark approximately where the old road used to be.