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Red Hook Lane: Illegal Parking Lot to History

A few weeks back I happened to be strolling through the Fulton Mall in Downtown
Brooklyn with my camera. I turned onto Red Hook Lane and was amazed by what I
saw. The incredible parking abuses by everyone from government officials to
local dentists represent an unprecedented disrespect for our parking laws and
street space.

I was moved to investigate further, and in my research found out some things
about Red Hook Lane that lend an interesting historical perspective to the
permit abuses there. In this context, the overwhelming disregard for
pedestrians seems even more inappropriate.

The name Red Hook Lane goes back to the middle of the 18th century, and the road
itself is much older than that, dating back to the 17th century when it was
used as a Native American trail. In its early days, Red Hook Lane was much
longer and more significant than the single block it currently occupies. Once
one of the longest streets in Brooklyn, the Lane was the sole route to Fort
Defiance, a 5-gun fort protected on three sides by the swampland that defined
Brooklyn. The Fort played a pivotal role in the Battle of Brooklyn, and between
August 27 and August 29th, 1776, served as the instrument of resistance from
which George Washington battled the British troops led by Richard Howe’s
400-ship fleet stationed in the East River.

The Battle of Brooklyn was the largest battle of the American Revolution and was
the first ever battle for an army representing the United States following the
signing of the Declaration of Independence. And while the guns of Fort Defiance
managed to hold off Howe’s troops just long enough for Washington’s retreat, it
seems now inappropriate that a site so representative of our country’s
formation and even the creation of The Declaration of Independence, should be a
parking lot for beneficiaries of that initial move to self-government.

It is not just an issue of respect for history, but also one of understanding
the significance of this space. What was once a route integral to America’s
independence is today obstructed by police officers who are paid to uphold the
ideals contained in the documents that have outlined their freedoms,
professional responsibilities and unfortunately it seems, even their
bureaucratic entitlement that allows for such disregard for public space.

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  • J.S. Clifford

    Great job on history of Red Hook and current status

  • T.Gaspard

    The images were compelling and provacative.

  • T.Gaspard

    I viewed the video before reading the history of Red Hook. After reading the history, I realized that you were documenting abuses that were taking place. Very interesting and informative.

  • Larry H

    Have some adhesive sticker printed and place them on the windscreens of the illegally parked vehicles.

    Good show.

  • Xue

    All very nice sentiments, but did you know that the street is scheduled to be lost forever as part of the Downtown Brooklyn Rezoning anyway? The street has been demapped, and once a developer is ready to build, the two adjacent lots will be joined into one large block for new development.

  • Sean C


    I am aware that the street has been demapped. The merits or that decision could be debated, but in the meantime the illegal parking still has an impact on pedestrians using the street.

    Thanks for the info, thanks for your comments and keep watching!

  • SonOfXue

    No doubt Sean C, keep up the great work.