A laid-back area along the western 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, in 1946, isolated the already remote Red Hook from the rest of Brooklyn, and the neighborhood attracted a growing number of artists and activists as a result of inexpensive rents. Momentum picked up with the arrival of an IKEA store in 2008 and a flourishing number of shops, bars, and restaurants along Van Brunt Street, the main drag. Just north of Red Hook is the mostly residential Columbia Waterfront District, where excellent restaurants are a big draw. Both Red Hook and the Columbia Waterfront District neighborhoods have become more accessible with the expansion of the Citi Bike bikeshare program.
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