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Fort Washington Park

The Daily Plant : Tuesday, December 19, 2000

LITTLE WHITE LIGHTHOUSE


Photo by Allyson (Longbow) Bowen

Who is that shrouded figure under the George Washington Bridge, wrapped like a bride or a parcel of mail?

Drivers have been puzzled to find a white Ghost of Christmas Present hidden under what appears to be a household sheet below the bridge.

Some see a snowman, installation art by Christo, or a little white lighthouse where once the red one stood. The importance of this little landmark-the only lighthouse on the island of Manhattan-has been confirmed by the recent inquiries, including a curious call to the New York Times.

With its structure under wraps, passersby fear the lighthouse has disappeared and become a... In fact, what has taken place tells a happy tale of cooperation between The Historic House Trust and the Bridge and Tunnel Authority.

During restorations last year, the lighthouse's signature red was returned to its original hue. Dawn (Delta) Melbourne Gonick of the Historic House Trust analyzed microscopic patches of old paint and their contents were replicated for a red true to history. No sooner was the paintjob completed than the Bridge and Tunnel Authority began adding a fresh coat of paint to the great gray bridge of Hildegarde H. Swift's children's classic, The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge. Staff at the Little Red Lighthouse began to notice a strange gray speckling as the new paint job of one landmark cozied up to the bright red of the other. The Bridge and Tunnel Authority responded to complaints and promptly arranged for the lighthouse to be wrapped under a protective tarp for the remainder of the repainting.

The Little Red Lighthouse, which sits in Fort Washington Park, was one of the first electrified lighthouses in the country when it was built in 1880. The forty-foot cast-iron structure was moved from its original location near Sandy Hook, New Jersey in 1921 to improve navigation in the Hudson River. Ten years later the building of the George Washington Bridge rendered its function obsolete. In 1979 the lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 1991 it was designated a City Landmark. In 1996 it became a member of the Historic House Trust. The 1880 cast-iron lighthouse is expected to be bundled up for a couple more weeks of painting and cold weather, then re-wrapped in spring for weather sensitive painting. By late spring when the purple lilacs blossom, the lighthouse too will bloom in shocking color. In the meantime, a sign in front explains the tarp to pedestrians, but uninformed commuters may see red.

THIRTEEN YEARS AGO IN THE PLANT
(Tuesday, December 22, 1987)

MAYOR KOCH GREETS TOURING "GREEN STREETS"

Despite the cold, wind and rain that persisted throughout the day, a team of Parks and Transportation Department faithfuls and Commissioner Stern and Ross Sandler boarded the new green and white Parks van at Columbus Circle Sunday for an afternoon tour of several of the city's "Green Streets" projects in design in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"And the ocean, under the pulsation of lighthouses and
noise of bell buoys, advances as usual."

Marianne Moore (1887-1972)

Directions to Fort Washington Park

Know Before You Go

ParkFort Washington Park

Portions of Fort Washington Park are closed to reconstruct the park entrance to Fort Washington Park on the south side of Dyckman Street and construct one mile of new greenway for pedestrians, cyclists and public waterfront access and enjoyment along the Hudson River. Construction is being done in an environmentally sensitive manner to maximize preservation of existing trees. Among the amenities the construction will provide are park lighting, new asphalt pavement and sub base, improved drainage, fencing, pruning of existing vegetation and planting of new trees, shrubs and wild flowers.
Anticipated Completion: Winter 2014

Fort Washington Park Weather

  • Thu
    Breezy
    63°F
  • Fri
    Partly Sunny
    62°F
  • Sat
    Chance Showers
    68°F
  • Sun
    Mostly Sunny
    62°F

7-day forecast

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