Hooked up! Iconic ‘Red Hook’ sign coming back to Van Brunt Street

Hooked up! Iconic ‘Red Hook’ sign coming back to Van Brunt Street
PWR Holdings

It is a red-letter day in Red Hook!

Luxury electric car maker Tesla will soon install its own neon incarnation of the neighborhood’s iconic “Red Hook” sign that once hung at street level on the Van Brunt Street warehouse the high-tech manufacturer recently turned into a dealership.

The original Red Hook sign on the Golten Marine building near the Battery Tunnel — which welcomed visitors to the neighborhood for almost 10 years — was demolished to make way for the showroom. But now the high-tech car maker is building and installing a new one after residents demanded the company bring it back.

“It’s Red Hook’s welcome mat to the world,” said Carolina Salguero, president of waterfront education group Portside New York, which operates out of the neighborhood.

Locals called for Tesla, which opened its showroom on Van Brunt and Imlay streets in March, to bring back the sign on social media — even creating a Twitter account dedicated to the lights. Salguero said a rep for the company told her “We listened and we heard,” on Thursday afternoon, and said the sign is ready to go.

She said the new sign appears to be neon, which will be more durable than its former rope light incarnations and should light up any day now, according to the rep.

And there may have a been an early sign that it would return — a rendering of the new Tesla building showed the red-lettered declaration adorned across its brick walls and windows.

The original sign, which was made of rope lights wrapped around wooden letters, was initially created for a holiday project in the mid-2000s. Its artist, Pete Waldman, drew inspiration for its 10-foot tall font from a sign that hung in the window of famed neighborhood grocery store Fairway and hung the lights himself the first two times around, nearly breaking his neck in the process, he said.

The sign’s lights kept going out, and had to be hung a third time by volunteers before it was trashed to make way for Tesla.

Waldman — a glassblower who has lived in Red Hook for 20 years — was not consulted on the project, but was happy to hear that Tesla is bringing back his design, which has become a source of pride for neighbors in the transit-starved nabe that is sometimes referred to as an “armpit community,” he said.

“I remember hearing a story about someone sitting on the bus and they turned the corner and said the Red Hook lights are up again, it’s so nice someone is thinking of us,” he said. “To bring it back would make a lot more people in the neighborhood appreciative of Tesla.”

A rep for Tesla confirmed that it is bringing back the sign, but would not comment further.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill