Approaching the actual pier at the Louis Valentino, Jr. Park and Pier in Red Hook, Brooklyn, there are a few standard historical park signs. The two parts that really caught my eye were: the one about Fort Defiance (now gone), and the other which showed the still-operating Atlantic Basin, albeit from a different era for sure.

In the first sign about Fort Defiance, I was unaware previously of the multiple locations of Mill Pond, the nearby Mill Dam, and what appears to be what is called Van Dyek’s Mill (commonly spelled Van Dyke now throughout NYC):

old terrain map

The image on the left (below) shows the fort in yellow with the-then shoreline in red, and the current surrounding street map. The piers seem straightforward enough to build and design from an existing shoreline, but the land north of the fort that would need to be filled in between Fort Defiance and the Atlantic Basin is staggering, a couple blocks deep and several (5, 6) blocks wide:

The footprint of the Fort over the current land map shows the sheer size of the Fort Defiance structure, the only structure of significance in the area, existing on the hoek proper. I was also previously unaware of the amount of land inland that would need to be filled in, given the numerous bodies of standing – and moving – water.

(The picture on the right, above, shows the full park sign with accompanying text for those who are ultra-curious and want to zoom in and read some more.)

So the detail in one map leads you in the direction of another. This map gives you a more-detailed idea of the multiple, many blocks that had to be filled in and constructed north of Fort Defiance to ultimately design the shoreline, and what was immediately intriguing were the multiple internal piers inside the Atlantic Basin:

erie basin and atlantic basin

Another feature I was previously unaware of were these piers themselves, and the mostly-gone surrounding structures (for storage I reckon), detailed in this 1877 engraving reproduction:

Atlantic Basin engraving

I mean, WOW! For comparison, here’s a current aerial Google Maps screenshot that shows the relatively tranquil basin with only the much-lower one and two-storey structures along the north-ish and south-ish edges of the basin (I have rotated the screenshot to more closely resemble the etching; this perspective is looking southwest):