Skip to comments.'The Little Red Lighthouse' under the George Washington Bridge
Posted on 07/19/2004 3:48:23 PM PDT by Coleus
'The Little Red Lighthouse'
|Monday, July 19, 2004|
THOMAS E. FRANKLIN / THE RECORD
Under the big gray bridge sits a little red lighthouse. Hardly known and seldom seen, it sits quietly on the New York side of the Hudson, under the mighty roar of the George Washington Bridge. Immortalized in a popular children's book, it has stood as a quaint reminder of the past.
The last surviving lighthouse in Manhattan, it stands just 40 feet high and a mere 28 feet above water. It was once an important beacon for ships from the north heading out to the Atlantic, at a time when shipwrecks in the Hudson were common. Nowadays, it is a little-known tourist spot that's rarely open - for a few hours on a handful of days each year. However, each September there is a Little Red Lighthouse Festival, a folk-fest celebrating the light and its famous book, "The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge," by Hildegarde Swift and Lynd Ward. "Every year we have someone read the book, like that guy from Verizon," says Urban Park Ranger Michael Corrigan. James Earl Jones? "Yeah, that guy."
Little Red is originally from Jersey, too, built in 1880 as a fog signal and lantern for ships near Sandy Hook. The Coast Guard moved it in 1921 to a jut of land known as Jeffrey's Hook, in an attempt to improve navigation on the river. But Little Red had outlived its usefulness by the time the bridge went up in 1931. The Coast Guard decommissioned it in 1948 and extinguished the light. But the book and an outpouring of support by New Yorkers saved Little Red. Legend has it that a 4-year-old was so offended, he offered to buy it. Now, it's a treasured city landmark.
"It's a neat part of history," Corrigan says. "I'm glad we kept it." So were the 100 or so visitors who dropped in on a recent Saturday morning, excited to see it open. "It's great," says biker Jeff Mathews, after climbing inside and checking out the view. "But is this the first time it's been open? I have been here so many times and never saw it opened."
Tom Offer of Oradell brought his teenage son, John, to take in the panoramic views. "Jersey people knock it, but it's a beautiful place, if you know where to look," says John Offer.
Located in Fort Washington Park at 178th Street, the Little Red Lighthouse can be a tough spot to get to, accessed only by foot or bicycle - not by car. People always ask Corrigan how to get there. He tells them 181st or 156th streets. "It's under the bridge. The bridge towers over it."
The photojournalist also took this famous picture.
My Mom read me that story MANY times when I was a child. It is still one of my favorites. I even bought a new copy recently that came with a Little Red Lighthouse Nightlight. What a great story!
When guests are visiting, my favorite tourist thing to do is to take them on the Circle Line around Manhattan. I always look forward to seeing the Lighthouse.
I've never been on the circle line. I remember when I was a kid their commercials were on tv all the time.
It's a great ride, Coleus! It costs about $20 and takes about three hours. The spectacular part of the ride is the first 45 minutes or so, as it goes down the Hudson, passes by Lady Liberty, and goes around the Battery. Best time to go is on a lazy summer day, midday. Bring your own cooler, put on the sunblock and shades, kick back and enjoy : )
Another treat, albeit much pricier, is the evening dinner and dance cruise on the World Yacht. Good for special occasions. Doesn't go around the whole island, but makes up for it by hovering very close to Lady Liberty after dinner on the way back. Be sure to make "Admiral" reservations, and get there early for a window table. Out of this world!
"I've never been on the circle line. "
I took it years ago, it was great fun. I also too the day line up to west point and back, but that was a wee bit long for the wee child I was at that time.
I read it when I was a boy, and I read it to my son every so often. A great children's book!
I asked him if we could go over and look at it. He laughed, "Sure, if you want to get killed."
That was the seventies though. I don't think the neighborhood is quite as bad right now.
You should take the time to go, it's great. Years ago when we lived in Queens we took my husband's parents and we have great shots of the WTC from the water.
|Monday, July 26, 2004|
THOMAS E. FRANKLIN / THE RECORD
Sometime last year Ed Green had an idea. It would combine his considerable creative skills as a mechanic, avid boatman, local barfly, and Jamaican wannabe - evening river cruises, he thought. So he took an old pontoon boat, modified it with a new engine and boat parts, planted a few plastic palm trees, placed a plastic flamingo on the bow, and created "The River Queen."
A 24-foot pontoon boat designed for casual river cruises, Green's boat has the mixed feel of "Gilligan's Island" and a hot Caribbean night, North Jersey-style, of course. Furnished with a straw roof, tiki lights, a gas grill, a kickin' sound system, and a captain wearing a Rasta wig, the Queen cuts smoothly up and down the Hackensack River in the shadow of the Meadowlands. "I had a vision of a Jamaican tiki boat," Ed Green recalls. "I had an obsession with tiki stuff." Green keeps the boat at the old marina behind the Waterfront Cafe in Carlstadt, and gives rides for free to his friends and guests of his favorite hangout. "We take guests out from the restaurant for dinner cruises," he explains. "We just kidnap them from the bar. It's a courtesy thing."
Green operates the boat for pleasure, and for his buddy Jimmy Winand, the owner of the Waterfront Cafe. "It's all about having fun," says Eddie. "If I am able to take them out, have fun, come back with a smile on their face, it's worth it."
"It's a getaway in the middle of Carlstadt," says Susan Mercoun, who helps run the Waterfront, which includes a bar-restaurant, golf driving range, and miniature golf. "He's Mr. Waterfront. It was all his idea. I think it's going to be a big hit. It's fun. It's outside. You can see the Empire State Building."
This is the River Queen's first year, and it has become popular on Wednesday evenings, starting around dusk. "It's a 5-mile-an-hour cruise," says Green, who takes patrons out in shifts for quick 30-minute jaunts. "I loved it," says Pat Sabatini, after taking in a recent sunset cruise. "I feel like I'm going on vacation. Really."
"This is awesome," adds Charley Bari. "Its great to forget about the stress from the day. I forgot all about the bad day I just had."
Had a great view of that Lighthouse from my dorm room while attending Columbia Presbyterian School of Nursing. That was way back in the early 60's and the neighborhood was not good for touist adventures.
The dorm's gone but hey the view remains!
May be a good trip idea for a freeper reunion/social.
Thanks for the post and pic. I grew up in the Hudson River Valley and always miss it; this time of year especially.
There used to be a Naval Reserve Fleet (aka: mothball fleet--Liberty Ships) near Stoney Point and my Dad was employed as a civilian by the gov't. In the winter he broke ice on the river in a tug (to keep the fleet channels open). In the summer he often took us to work and we got to hang out on the mother ship and go on the rounds with him on the tug (security and maintenance detail)
He also worked a second job for a local Boat shop and marina and we spent summers on the River in Newburgh.
My brother had a boat and we were forbidden to go on Bannermans island (which we were told had man-eating dobermans running wild over the island!).
I love this area and have only been back once in 30 years.
Anyone remember the fleet?
|Monday, December 27, 2004|
For five weeks every year, from Thanksgiving to New Year's, the magical glow of Christmas shines ever so brightly on Arthur Street in Clifton. That's when Mark Carfora transforms his parents' house into a North Jersey version of Santa's Village. The Clifton Christmas House has become a must-see seasonal attraction with more than 100,000 lights and 50 animated figures.
Driving down tiny little Arthur Street, located in the old Botany Village section, with its narrow streets and ethnic shops, has become a Christmas tradition. New York has Rockefeller Center; Clifton has the Christmas House. "Who needs Radio City?" jokes Carfora. Locals say the house draws hundreds on the weekends. Carfora dresses as Santa and sits in the driveway on a red chair listening to children ask for Xboxes, Barbie, and SpongeBob SquarePants. Santa waves to the passing cars, hands out candy canes, and spreads the holiday cheer with great gusto. "You must remember the carrots," he tells the children. "My reindeer love carrots."
Carfora is a 25-year-old online salesman and part-time clown. He's been creating the Christmas House with his dad, Jim, for 12 years. "The first year, [we had] a wreath and two strings of lights," he says. "It grew to this. My parents used to take me around to see Christmas lights. I was always fascinated with decorations. It just wouldn't be Christmas if we didn't do it."
Neighbor Carmen Ramos brought her two sons, Angel and Max Beauchamp, to meet Santa. "I come every year," she says. "It's getting better every year. It's good for the town. Just seeing this gets us in the holiday spirit. It's better than going to the mall."
The Christmas House is lit every day from 5 to 10:30 p.m. That's a lot of light coming from a small two-story clapboard house. And how's that electric bill? "Came to $800 last year," says Mark Carfora. Remarkably, the display is artful and well done. Carfora says he changes it every year. The father and son are already planning next year, possibly adding a snow-making machine, or stringing lights across the street to the other side.
"It's like the Griswolds," says Jim Carfora, referring to the Chevy Chase Christmas classic. "It happens every year and it gets bigger every year. Santa takes over and the North Pole comes to Clifton."
"We start setting up in October," adds Mark Carfora. "We even have kids drop letters [for Santa] in the mailbox. A lad down the block made some cookies. They really fall for it. Kids walking by say, 'Mommy, isn't that where Santa lives?' In the middle of summer."
Fourteen-year-old Jessica Garretson lives next door, and says the Carfora lights shine so brightly through her kitchen window there's no need to turn the lights on. "I like it. It makes me happy about Christmas," she says. "I live next to the Christmas House."
I was on it when i was like 4 or 5 years old. I remember I threw up, lol.
I'll have to check this house out. There is one in Nutley on East Passaic Ave that is causing quite a ruckus as well.
yuk, souds like something I would do.
The nuns had us draw a picture of it.
They were pretty impressed with my drawing, as I recall.
Stands to reason - my dad is a famous artist, and, at the time, I was taking classes in Art at the Met.
Then it started to rain, so I took some black paint and colored in the raindrops.
I think I was a realist, art-wise.
The nuns had a fit.
Then we had smores.
Ever seen a nun make smores?
... Er ... Look at the light, please...
Black and white photos of the bridge's 1931 dedication, postcards, newspaper clippings and current photos of the span fill display cases and the museum's walls. A tin toy and soap decorated with images of the bridge can also be spotted. Even a red rug with drawings of the bridge that once filled space in The Riviera nightclub adorns the museum floor.
"I've known this bridge all my life,'' said Peter Rustin of Passaic, who said he often walked the bridge with his mother as a child. "The pictures are nice." Steven Lanza, of Rutherford, brought his 12-year-old daughter to the museum. Lanza, who grew up in Fort Lee, said he liked the photos, but a lot of the information was not new to him. "When you grow up in this town, you know everything about the bridge,'' he said. The exhibit has been more than a year in the making and memorabilia collecting is continuing.
Meyers and other members of the society are working on compiling digital images of pictures they have accumulated through the years to give to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The agency, which manages and maintains the bridge, lost many of its historical photos during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "They had given us copies of their photos over the years,'' he said. "This is a way for us to help them reassemble some of that collection." Meyers said the goal of the Fort Lee exhibit is to get visitors to think of the bridge as more than a means of getting into New York City. "Many people worked hard from the engineers and laborers to build this modern marvel,'' he said. "Maybe this exhibit will get people to go out and walk the bridge, a lot of people don't' get that chance."
Pam and Peter Bernardini, members of the Fort Lee Historical Society who were manning the exhibit Saturday, debated whether they would walk the bridge again. Pam Bernardini, who strolled the span when she was raising her two sons, says she has thought about it, but her husband wasn't convinced. "It's scary to walk across now,'' said Peter Bernardini. "You feel the cars and you feel the bouncing." The exhibit can be seen on the weekends and by appointment during the week through January. For information about the exhibit or other bridge anniversary events, call 201-592-3663 or visit www.fortleefilm.org.
Interesting! I used to live quite close to the GW. Beautiful structure! And I loved passing the "Little Red Lighthouse that could" below it, ---- when on the Circle Line tour.
About that tour, it is one of the most interesting things you can do in NYC. I forget how many times I have taken friends on that cruise, but I've never tired of it and always saw something new. I'd go tomorrow with as much excitement as the last cruise!
It is the best ride. I will never forget it. It was beautiful, relaxing and a ride I will always cherish and remember.
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