Posts Tagged ‘Red Hook’

The Hooks of Upper Manhattan

August 8, 2010

Downtown has Corlears Hook. Brooklyn has Red Hook (and once had Yellow Hook). 

Upper Manhattan also had some Hooks—like Tubby Hook, sometimes called Tubby’s Hook. It was the 18th and 19th century name for a section of Inwood between Fort Tryon Park and Inwood Hill Park.

An 1894 New York Times article describes it like this:

[“View, Tubby Hook and Spuyten Duyvel Creek,” from the NYPL in the 1860s or 1870s]

“A little below Riverdale, at a point near Inwood, there is a projection known as Tubby’s Hook, where the water is deep enough to allow large steamers to pass quite close to it. Tubby’s Hook is also a resort for fishermen.”

It’s a funny name that’s probably a bastardization of the last name of Peter Ubrecht, a wealthy 18th century resident.

Jeffrey’s Hook is another precipice jutting into the Hudson. It’s under the George Washington Bridge and now known as the location of the Little Red Lighthouse, Manhattan’s only lighthouse.

But Jeffrey’s Hook played a big role in colonial history: It’s where Washington and his troops traveled back and forth to Fort Lee during the Revolutionary War.

Crazy Joe Gallo’s last moments in Little Italy

February 7, 2009

Joseph Gallo, nicknamed “crazy” by fellow mobsters, was a Red Hook–born gangster specializing in typical 1950s and 1960s mafia activities such as extortion and racketeering.

joegallopictureHe was also flamboyant, charming, and well-read, and in the early 1970s he became kind of a celebrity, hanging out with writers, actors, and other New York scenesters. 

But he made a fatal mistake on the night of his 43rd birthday, on April 7, 1972. After visiting the Copacabana nightclub, he stopped into Umberto’s Clam House on Mulberry Street in Little Italy. It was around 5 a.m. Supposedly a rival mobster saw him enter Umberto’s; within minutes, gunmen entered the restaurant and start firing. 

Gallo was hit five times, staggered out to the street, and died. He’s buried in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery.


There’s the crime scene at Umberto’s early the next morning. Apparently Gallo thought he was safe there because of an unwritten agreement among gangsters that Little Italy was off-limits to bloodshed. 


Umberto’s Clam House has since relocated a few blocks away, on the corner of Broome and Mulberry Streets in ever-shrinking Little Italy.

What happened when Gallo loyalists tried to avenge his murder? Here’s the story of a hit gone very, very wrong.

Bob Dylan’s 1976 song “Joey” tells Gallo’s story. Watch Part I and Part II here.

A Hooverville in Central Park

October 8, 2008

Imagine strolling through Central Park and coming upon an encampment of shacks right out in the open, with furniture and stoves providing heat and comfort for dozens of residents.

This encampment actually existed in the early years of the Great Depression. Central Park’s Great Lawn served as a Hooverville of sorts for out-of-work, homeless New York men.

Public and official sentiment was on the side of the Hooverville residents. A New York Times article from September 22, 1932 states: “The raid was staged on the orders of Deputy Parks Commissioner John Hart, who explained that the Park Department, much as it regretted it, intended to raze the settlement this morning.

“‘We don’t want to do it, but we can’t help it,’ Mr. Hart said, adding that although the men had maintained good order, had built comfortable shacks and furnished them as commodiously as they could, there were no water or sanitary facilities near the settlement.”

There were other Hoovervilles in the city in the 1930s. One, “Camp Thomas Paine,” existed along the Hudson in Riverside Park, another, “Hardlucksville,” was at the end of 10th Street on the East River. Red Hook had its own Hooverville as well, off Columbia Street:

Hey New York, gimme a sign!

June 1, 2008

Deciphering faded ads painted on buildings long ago is one of the city’s little pleasures. Here are three ghostly glimpses of New York’s recent past.

On Richards Street in Red Hook is this sign for the Kranich Soap Company. I couldn’t find anything on the history of the place. 

From the East 90s in Manhattan is this ad for a laundry company. “Best launderers in the…” It’s a mystery.

On Manhattan’s West Street off Leroy is this old hotel sign. Can’t make out the name but it was on 57th Street and boasted of having 1200 rooms.

Ballad of the Sad Cafe

May 5, 2008

While empty storefronts in the hipster part of Red Hook get turned in to cool-kid bars and restaurants, the ghostly Clinton Cafe is a reminder of the Hook’s working-class, longshoreman history.

Red Hook’s revolutionary history

April 27, 2008

New street signs in Red Hook commemorate Red Hook Lane, an old Indian trail that served as the main route in and out of Red Hook to the heights of Brooklyn during the Revolutionary War. 

Such an important street met a cruel fate. It existed on early maps, from Henry Street to Fulton. But by the end of the 19th century, development had reduced it to a block-long alley off Livingston Street. In 2007, Red Hook Lane suffered the ultimate blow—it was officially de-mapped! 

Also new in the Hook: The ground under a tiny triangle of land on Nelson and Columbia Streets may contain soldiers’ remains. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle covers it here.