Way up on the western side of Manhattan, there is a petite lighthouse under a huge grey bridge. This charming pairing was captured in a children’s book called The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge illustrated by Lynd Ward, and recently I had a chance to go inside the rarely open tiny beacon.
You may remember I visited the Little Red Lighthouse on my New York one-year anniversary last year. The 40-foot-tall red lighthouse is on the shore of the Hudson River under the 604-foot-tall Washington Bridge, and was built in 1889, but moved to its current location in 1921 to aid in river navigation. The Washington Bridge was completed over it in 1931. The dwarfed lighthouse was almost dismantled in 1951, but was saved from demolition by fans of the children’s book it inspired.
The lighthouse is now managed by the parks department, and periodically it is open to visitors. We arrived just before closing to climb up its winding staircase to the top. The Washington Bridge seemed even more overwhelming in size from the top of the lighthouse. There was a cool breeze off the river and a hazy view to the skyscrapers in lower Manhattan.
There is still a working light on top, so that the Little Red Lighthouse can proudly blink to passing boats. Even if it was a short climb on the spiral staircase, it was worth it to go up to Washington Heights to finally see the inside of my favorite NYC lighthouse. (Actually, it may have competition with the one on Roosevelt Island built by an asylum patient…)