• Benji Sills

Little Red Lighthouse

Updated: Jul 19, 2020

To learn more about this location and other hidden gems in NYC, check out our first travel video.

The dense little island of Manhattan is packed with an almost frightening array of secrets - sometimes the best hidden gems may only be a few streets apart and you’ll still completely miss them. That’s what happened when Paige and I ventured north up the west side looking for the Sisyphus Stones, bizarre waterfront rock piles that seem to ignore basic gravity (read about that adventure here). But what we missed at the time was only minutes north of the Sisyphus Stones. One of Manhattan’s other best kept secrets: a bright red lighthouse hidden in the shadow of the George Washington Bridge.

We were back at the Sisyphus Stones a few weeks ago and decided to wander the extra few minutes up to the lighthouse as well. The walk from Paige’s apartment to the bridge is always shockingly longer than we expect it to be and we were still at the stones by the time the sun began to disappear. We pulled ourselves together quickly and began an out-of-practice jog northward. The bridge slowly crawled closer ahead of us until we were finally directly beside it.

The immediate effect of the lighthouse was quite jarring - like someone boldly shining a keychain flashlight at the Sun. The colossal bridge hulked over the lighthouse, making it look squat and comical by comparison. The small red beam on top whirred feebly beneath the bridge, like a floating city above it. This odd discrepancy makes sense when you look at the history of the lighthouse.

The lighthouse was built to aid with navigation along the shore, but only ten years later the George Washington Bridge was constructed over it. Massive (but more importantly very bright), the bridge rendered the lighthouse obsolete. Luckily however, the lighthouse had become a star by this point as the subject of The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge - a popular picture book. Enthusiastic bibliophiles rallied to save the structure and thanks to them, you can still visit one of the last remaining anthropomorphized lighthouses around.

The lighthouse can be found almost directly underneath the George Washington Bridge, right at the edge of the water. It's easiest to get there by walking up the Hudson River Greenway.

The lighthouse is open at all hours and is entirely free to enjoy!

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