The Red Hook ride.
Red Hook is an area that links New York to its industrial past. Mostly, it still survives because of neglect, as the Brooklyn Queens Expressway cuts it off from the rest of Brooklyn and no subway goes there. It’s still a land of cobblestone streets, docks, and warehouses. Gentrification is slowly coming to the area, which is both good and bad. It is getting “cleaned up,” acquiring hip eateries and an massive Ikea store, but also getting more crowded and losing some of its original flavor. Go now so you can tell people you knew it when.
Riding to Red Hook.
Starting on the edge of downtown Brooklyn, you immediately ride away from it all, zipping downhill to the Brooklyn waterfront. Long the home of shipyards, this ride takes you from the recently upgraded to the recently rediscovered, as you ride along improved waterfront parkland on the Brooklyn Bridge Greenway, then move onto industrial Red Hook.
Red Hook is a sight; warehouses, light industry, heavy industry, beat down buildings, quirky homes and storefronts, housing projects, and gentrifying forces all jumbled together. Just as it seems like you’ve gone back in time, you notice that the old warehouse you’re passing is a fancy Fairway supermarket, and then two turns later you’re confronted with the behemoth that is Ikea. Once past Ikea, you’re back to industrial Red Hook, with the Gowanus Industrial Park on a pier alongside the Columbia Street Esplanade, where you’ll find guys fishing and hanging out. Seen from above, this is the hook of Red Hook.
Once you turn around and start heading back, you’ll pass the new and the old. First, the hip Red Hook Community Farm, an urban agrarian outpost bent on local agriculture. After that, you’ll see the Red Hook Recreation Area, a depression-era Works Progress Administration development with a massive public pool, one of 11 such pools in the city.
Once past the park and onto Clinton Street, you’ll quickly pass under the highway and start climbing into tonier Brooklyn, riding into Carroll Gardens before making a left, riding downhill and returning to the waterfront.
Back along the water, you’ll be riding north and will have views of downtown Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge before turning right, and climbing back up to the heights from which you started.
Calories and Liquids
Traditional Brooklyn Pizza is Grimaldi’s, which is either at the start or finish of the ride. It’s fairly well-known, so the wait can be long. It’s more of an adventure to explore DUMBO, and no shortage of good eats there.
The Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge, in Red Hook, is a museum on a restored barge that tours New York Harbor. Simple, but fun, educational, and it’s always great to be on the waters of New York Bay.
Specs (Red Hook Bike Ride)
How to Get There: The closest train station is the Brooklyn Bridge stop on the A and C lines, though several train lines converge on downtown Brooklyn, which is nearby.
Distance: 8.6 miles
Elevation Gained: 375 Feet
Terrain: Pretty flat. Start by descending, finish by climbing, one hill in between. Mostly quiet roads with on-street lanes and bike paths.
Ride Rating: @@
Notes: Can see Brooklyn changing in front of you, and good views of the harbor.
Includes: A PDF with intelligence and a GPX file to upload to your bike computer or mobile device. A how-to can be found here.