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The Red Hook Grain Terminal

By Dan Brenner

Posted on July 24, 2019

[Gowanus Canal Grain Terminal], circa 1930, Photographic print, v1973.5.978; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Situated at the mouth of the Gowanus Canal in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook, the Red Hook Grain Terminal was built in 1922, as part of the New York State Canal System (formerly known as the New York State Barge Canal). This project was a plan to incorporate a new series of waterways to re-route and improve shipping along the Erie Canal. The New York State Canal System also included the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, the Champlain Canal, and the Oswego Canal.

The Erie Canal, which connects Lake Erie to the Hudson River, opened on October 26, 1825 and played a major role in developing the shipping and trade economy of New York City. By the early 1920s, the grain trade was already in a state of decline. In an attempt to revitalize the Gowanus Canal and to coincide with the new canal system, plans were set in motion to build a grain terminal in Red Hook along the Gowanus Canal, which had become an infrequently used waterway.

The Red Hook Grain Terminal (referred to as the Gowanus Canal Grain Terminal above) opened on September 1, 1922 and was considered an immediate failure by some. This was due to a decline in canal usage as a means of transport and an overall drop in grain shipment from the previous decade. The structure remained in use until 1965. It still stands abandoned today, over fifty years later.

This image comes from the Brooklyn photograph and illustration collection (ARC.202). For more information please see our finding aid here and for more photographs from this collection please visit our image gallery here.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here. To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections; visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. [email protected].

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