The landscape of Red Hook has been dramatically changed by people at least twice in its history. Starting in a major way around 1830, marshland was filled in to make solid land, and the coast line was modified to better suit boats. Nearly 100 years before that, land area was altered by the creation of tidal mill ponds used to power grist mills.
According to Henry Stiles in his 1867 A History of the City of Brooklyn: Red Hook's Seabring Mill was built prior to 1766 and was located at the northeast corner of the present day Hicks and Huntington Streets. The mill was later rebuilt by John Rapelje and was known as 'Cole's Mill.' The site was excavated out of the marsh by African-American laborers.
More about the history of tide mills in Red Hook in our essay "Red Hook Then to Now: marsh, mill pond, port, derelict, renewal."
Transcribed text from A History of the City of Brooklyn: (breaks and emphasis added):
Along the shore, between the mouth of the Gowanus Creek and the place designated on Ratzer's map as Seabring's mill, and at about the junction of present Court and Sigourney streets, were a few sand-hills, known to the ancient Dutch as the Roode Hoogtjs, or " Red Heights."
This Seabring mill was built prior to 1766, the mill-pond being formed by enclosing, with a lengthy dam, a small cove and creek near the head of GowanusBay. The mill itself was located on the northeast corner of the present Hicks and Huntington streets, the Seabring house being on the north line of the latter street, between Hicks and Columbia streets. These mills became known, later, as the "Luquer Mills."
One of the old mill-buildings, between Hicks and Columbia, Nelson and Luqueer streets, is still used as a white-lead factory, and the old claim extended from about the corner of Bush and Hicks to near the corner of Grinnell and Clinton streets. On the Lubbertse patent, also, on the north side of the present Ninth street, between Smith street and Gowanus Canal, was the mill and mill-pond, built originally by John Rapelje, after 1766, and better known as " Cole's Mill."
The mill-pond was an artificial work, being excavated out of the marsh, on the side of Gowanus Kil, by negro labor. Jordan Cole's house was situated on Ninth street, between Gowanus Canal and Smith street, and to the east of the latter.