For the first time since 2009, Red Hook residents will have a prime view of Fourth of July fireworks. With the Macy’s annual fireworks show returning to its old East River location – at the behest of first-year mayor Bill de Blasio – Red Hook’s neighbors across the river will once again put on a fireworks display. de Blasio’s Jersey City counterpart, fellow first-year mayor, Steven Fulop, announced in May plans to re-instate what was once a New Jersey tradition.
The possibility of viewing fireworks from Red Hook has been met with a mix of excitement, optimism and confusion. While Brooklyn Greenway Initiative Co-Founder, and Red Hook resident, Brian McCormick lauded the benefit for the local business the fireworks would bring, some workers at local establishments were unaware that the midsummer show will be viewable within the neighborhood.
From a public greenway to rooftop dining, much has changed in Red Hook since the last Jersey City fireworks display. In anticipation of the holiday, the Star-Revue has canvassed the neighborhood to find the best places for celebrating the midsummer lights show.
Louis Valentino Jr. Park and Pier
One public place that many Red Hook residents agreed will have great views is Louis Valentino Jr. Park and Pier, located on Ferris St. between Coffey and Van Dyke Streets. The park and pier, home to neighborhood institution Steve’s Key Lime Pie, boasts the clearest views in the area of the Statue of Liberty, Governor’s Island and Liberty State Park. Given the open miles of viewing and free admission, the park and pier are likely to fill up quickly, putting seating areas at a premium.
The last time the fireworks were so clearly visible from Red Hook, the neighborhood did not have the free, public stretch of Greenway that will be available to viewers this year. Beginning on the west side of Van Brunt Street at the intersection with Imlay and Carroll Streets, the paved Greenway extends north to where Atlantic Ave meets Columbia Street (and beyond). McCormick welcomes the public to the Greenway but asks that spectators are considerate of foot, bike and car traffic.
For the Reed Street multi-purpose restaurant, bar and beer garden, the Fourth of July will be popular business as usual, with one added bonus. According to manager James Ferrarone, the restaurant will host a special Fourth of July shrimp boil near the front entrance among the Adirondack chairs.
The summer staple will otherwise continue regular operations. The rooftop dining room is surrounded by eight large windows that will be open, according to Ferrarone, providing near panoramic views of the city and the river. For residents looking seeking these prime tables, patrons will be seated on a first-come, first-serve basis as usual, Ferrarone says. Those hoping to take in the fireworks from the three-year-old restaurant should budget in extra time in case of long wait times.
According to locals, the popular Fairway summer patio will be a prime spot for fireworks watchers. Fairway attendees should be able to see the fireworks, but a handful of trees to the patio’s west side could obstruct some views. The market is open daily until 10 p.m., but management was unavailable for comment on extended Fourth of July hours.
Thinking of trying to snag a table on Alma’s rooftop dining room? Unfortunately for the public, the restaurant will host a private party on the Fourth of July until close, making the neighborhood’s premier rooftop dining area off limits for the general public.
Manager Lourdes Leon offered a consolation prize to those disappointed that the roof will be unavailable. Alma’s second floor dining room, which Leon points out has very large windows, will be open. The restaurant will provide a special menu, which has not yet been determined, though Leon warns that there will likely be an hour wait time. Diners won’t be allowed to post up at the tables all night, so patrons will have to time their dinner just right to catch the fireworks through the windows.
Directly south of the Fairway patio is the half-mile long publicly accessible walkway that will provide prime, unobstructed views toward Liberty State Park. About 10 feet wide, residents and fireworks watchers will likely claim their spots early in the day. The walkway begins at the south end of Conover Street and extends past Fairway and the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition building.
Private Viewing Parties
Even with great, publicly accessible options for watching the patriotic celebration, a common theme among residents is that some of the best views are from privately owned or rented roofs, boats and piers. McCormick mentioned that he’s had people over to his roof in the past, but he much prefers to be among the crowds on the Greenway, which conducts a better energy, he says.
A few VFW members explained that they’ve watched the fireworks on friends’ boats or as guests of private companies in the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal or Red Hook Container Terminal.
For those lucky enough to live or know someone who lives in the apartments and condos above Fairway, the building’s adjacent parking lot will provide opportunities to set up seats amid the cars. Meanwhile, apartments with a western exposure should offer prime window views.
Off-limits to the public
In addition to the Alma rooftop, a number of places that would otherwise be prime viewing spots are cordoned off to the public. According to Terminal Manager Dave Esposito, the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal will not have public access because it is a secured facility.
According to a source in the 76th precinct, the police department will have officers throughout the neighborhood working details to ensure safety for all fireworks viewers. The department does not expect to close any streets and asks that revelers obey all laws and are considerate of traffic passing on the streets.