Louis Valentino, Jr. Park and Pier
Now surrounded by industrial, residential, and historic buildings, Valentino Pier was once the site of an active shipping industry. In the 1600s, the Red Hook district was settled by the Dutch. As the land became more developed and the population grew, the shipping industry began to take form. With the growth of the New York Harbor and accompanying changes on the waterfront, Red Hook became one of the nation’s premier shipping centers in the 19th century. This pier is a reminder of the shipping industry that once occupied the waters of the Buttermilk Channel and the Upper New York Harbor.
This park was named in honor of firefighter and Parks lifeguard Louis J. Valentino, Jr. (1958 – 1996). Over the years, Valentino lived and studied in a number of Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Sacred Heart St. Stephens in Red Hook, Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge, and St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights. He then fulfilled his lifelong aspiration to become a firefighter, joining the New York City Fire Department in 1984. Valentino first served with Engine Company 281, where he battled fires for two years. He then moved on to Ladder Company 147, where he served until 1993, when he was accepted to the elite Rescue Company 2 in Crown Heights—joining the ranks of the city’s most experienced and versatile firefighters. Valentino was twice cited for his bravery, in 1987 and 1990.
On February 5, 1996, Valentino lost his life while searching for wounded firefighters in a three-alarm blaze in an illegal Flatlands garage. Louis Valentino, Jr. Park and Pier preserves the memory of a man who demonstrated selfless devotion to fighting fires and saving lives.
Louis Valentino, Jr. Park and Pier was originally built in 1996 by the City’s Economic Development Corporation before becoming a city park in 1999. From the pier can be seen the Statue of Liberty, Governor’s Island, Manhattan’s skyline, Staten Island, and the New York Harbor. Other parks and attractions nearby include Red Hook Recreation Area/Red Hook Pool, The Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge, and Beard Street Pier.