Red Hook has been part of the Town of Brooklyn since it was organized in the 1600s. It is named for the red clay soil and the point of land projecting into the Upper New York Bay. The village was settled by Dutch colonists of New Amsterdam in 1636, and named Roode Hoek. Red Hook is part of the area known as South Brooklyn. In the 1950s anything south of Atlantic Avenue was considered South Brooklyn, thus the names "Red Hook" and "South Brooklyn" were applied also to today's Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Columbia Heights and Gowanus neighborhoods.
Portions of Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill were granted landmark status in the 1970s and carved out of Red Hook which is a peninsula between Buttermilk Channel, Gowanus Bay and Gowanus Canal at the southern edge of Downtown Brooklyn. Red Hook is the only part of New York City that has a full frontal view of the Statue of Liberty, which was oriented to face France, the country which donated the statue to the United States following the centennial of the United States.
While gentrification is well under way and houses are getting harder to find the area owes its special ambiance to its waterfront location: Red Hood's docks offer a breathtaking view of the Statue of Liberty. Its industrial factories, many of which are on the waterfront, are rapidly being transformed into pricey condominiums. On gusty days, lucky occupants can feel wind and water pelting their windows and balconies. It's the next best thing to being on the deck of a ship or fishing boat.
The turning point for Red Hook was the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, which opened in April 2006. When the 153,000-ton Queen Mary 2 was guided into the Brooklyn terminal with its 2,200 passengers, it marked the beginning of a new era not only for Red Hook, but for the entire downtown section of Brooklyn. Other major cruise lines also signed agreements to use the Brooklyn terminal.
Once a tough, gang-infested South Brooklyn neighborhood and home of legendary crime boss Al Capone, Red Hook has ascended to expensive cool. Along with art galleries, restaurants and funky bars, you also have great shopping. Red Hook has welcomed popular sprawling Fairway Market on Van Brunt as a keystone in its redevelopment and nearby IKEA is busy all day long.
Baked, Sunny's Bar and Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pie are neighborhood bright spots. Van Brunt Street is restaurant row with foodie favorites - Fort Defiance and The Good Fork. Red Hook Park (fifty-eight-acres including softball fields, handball courts, and a football field) and The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists’ Coalition with three gallery shows a year are neighborhood landmarks.
Subway service in the area is sparse. The closest subway stops are along F /G trains Smith–Ninth Streets stations. Bus service is popular. The B61 bus route provides service from near the Fairway grocery store, through Erie Basin/IKEA Plaza, to Van Brunt St and then northward, through the Columbia Street Waterfront District and terminates in Downtown Brooklyn. There is also ferry service to Manhattan from Ikea Plaza.
Nearby: Columbia Waterfront District, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus