The Little Red Lighthouse: A Children's Lesson to Adults

By: Dylan Rodgers

There's an old saying, "Every time a child cries, a lighthouse gets its wings." ... or something to that effect. O.K., maybe that's not an old saying, or any saying for that matter, but in the case of one red lighthouse, it's entirely true.

Have you ever read The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge, by Hildegarde H. Swift? Long story short: It is about the construction of the 604 ft. Washington Bridge next to the 40 ft. lighthouse. Before the Washington Bridge was built, the Little Red Lighthouse was the only protection ships had from the jagged rocks as they navigated the narrow Hudson River pass between Harlem and Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Swift's book teaches children of the important role that the lighthouse played in the safety of the ships, and that even though the Washington Bridge is much bigger and now supplies all the light needed, the Little Red Lighthouse still has importance.

In 1951, the city proposed to remove the lighthouse, but because of public outcry by none other than the nation's children, the Little Red Lighthouse stands to this day. The crazy part about all of this is that the moral of Swift's story became actualized when the smallest people in the country, the ones that often cannot even choose what clothes they will wear for the day, demanded that the lighthouse stay, and it did.

It's nice when a lesson so worthwhile actually gets through to an entire generation. Now granted, it probably started just as the kids just wanting their favorite lighthouse to stay around. But as the reality set in that they won that battle, the moral of The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge reached new levels of clarity and understanding.

Photo: David Bledsoe