the little red lighthouse and the great gray bridge

after 10 years of living in new york, i am far from knowing this city well.

hearing from a few friends that we should check out the lighthouse in fort washington park (a stretch of green that runs along the hudson river under the george washington bridge, a short walk from our apartment) we set out one afternoon in june to see what the buzz was about.

the path through the park winds down under the bridge and around to the bank of the hudson river.

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beneath the enormous gray steel beams sits a small red lighthouse.

littlredlighthousebookyou might recognize this particular lighthouse, as my husband quickly did, from this classic children’s book.

in the book, the lighthouse sat alone on the bank, greeting ships by day and guiding them safely by night.

Every night a man came to tend the little red lighthouse and turn on it’s light.

It felt big and useful and important. What would the boats do without me? it thought.

Then one day the workmen came and started to dig and build.

Every day it watched the strange new gray thing beside it grow and grow. Huge towers seemed to touch the sky. Strong loops of steel swept across the river.
How big it was!
How wonderful!
How powerful!
A great gray bridge, spanning the Hudson River from shore to shore. It made the little red lighthouse feel very, very small.

The book continues with an oncoming storm too strong for the bridge to handle alone, and a plea from the bridge to the lighthouse for help in guiding the ships.

“Little brother, where is your light?”
“Am I brother of yours, bridge?” wondered the lighthouse. “Your light was so bright that I thought mine was needed no more.”
“I call to the airplanes,” cried the bridge, “I flash to the ships of the air. But you are still master of the river. Quick, let your light shine again. Each to his own place, little brother!”

And so the bridge and the lighthouse worked together.

And now beside the great beacon of the bridge a small beam of the lighthouse still flashes.
Beside the towering gray bridge the lighthouse still bravely stands. Though it knows now that it is little, it is still VERY. VERY PROUD.

And every day the people who go up Riverside Drive in New York City turn to look at it. For there they both are – the great gray bridge and the little red lighthouse.

If you don’t believe it, go see for yourselves!

As we walked around the lighthouse, Topher talked fondly of his memories reading this book with his grandmother as a child in California.

Remarkable that the inspiration for this widely loved story sits just a short walk from our apartment.

New York continues to surprise me with new discoveries, even after 10 years here.

I love that about this city.


2 thoughts on “the little red lighthouse and the great gray bridge

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