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In the 1840s, entrepreneurs began to build ports as the "offloading end" of the Erie Canal.These included the Atlantic, Erie and Brooklyn Basins.The two principal earthworks were about 150 feet by 175 feet, and the tertiary one was about 75 feet by 100 feet.The Sproule and Ratzer maps show that Red Hook was a low-lying area full of tidal mill ponds created by the Dutch.
Rapelye Street in Red Hook is named for Rapelje and his descendants, who lived in Brooklyn for centuries.
By the 1920s, they made Red Hook the busiest freight port in the world, but this ended in the 1960s with the advent of containerization.
In the 1930s, the area was poor, and the site of the current Red Hook Houses was the site of a shack city for the homeless, called a "Hooverville". 15 in Red Hook was killed in 1992, in the crossfire of a drug-related shooting while looking for a pupil who had left his school.
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.