A laid-back tract along the west-central Brooklyn waterfront, Red Hook entices with redbrick Civil War–era warehouses, views of the Statue of Liberty and lower New York Harbor, and destination bars and restaurants. Rural until the mid-19th century, when the area developed into a major shipping and ship-repair hub, Red Hook thrived until after World War II, when the introduction of container ports elsewhere in New York and New Jersey resulted in dockworker layoffs and business closures. The building of the Gowanus Expressway, built in 1946, isolated the already remote Red Hook from the rest of Brooklyn, and the neighborhood was slower to regroup than Carroll Gardens, just to the east. Momentum picked up with the arrival of an IKEA store in 2008 (its opening on what had been a working 19th-century dry dock was not without controversy) and a flourishing number of shops, bars, and restaurants along Van Brunt Street, the main drag. In 2012, just as New Yorkers began taking note of Red Hook's resurgence, Hurricane Sandy battered area homes and businesses. Despite this setback, residents banded together, and the area has largely recovered. Just north of Red Hook is the mostly residential Columbia Waterfront District, whose excellent restaurants are a big draw.
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