By: Rebecca Reilly
As a continuation to our historic district series, we will next profile a 40 block neighborhood in Brooklyn known as Cobble Hill. The area was originally settled by Dutch farmers in the 1640s. Cobble Hill was named for a hill, which was used as a fort during the Revolutionary War, located at the intersection of Atlantic Ave, Pacific Street and Court Street. The South Ferry was first established in the 1830s to connect the area to lower Manhattan. This access to Manhattan lead to the development and eventual urbanization of this rural farm area, and none of the area’s farm houses remain today.
Small row houses, primarily constructed of brownstone and brick masonry, were built on a gridiron street pattern. The majority of these row houses were of the Greek Revival and Italianate styles. Additionally, in the late 1800s, Alfred Tredway White built two affordable housing projects, the first of their kind in the United States. The affordable 19th century row houses and the housing projects attracted the working class and the area developed into a middle class neighborhood. In the 1880s, people stopped referring to the neighborhood as “Cobble Hill” but rather considered it part of South Brooklyn or Brooklyn Heights. Because it was accessible to the city and offered larger, less expensive housing options, wealthy Manhattanites began to move to the area in the late 19th century.
In the 1920s, the neighborhood became home to many immigrants from Ireland, Italy and the Middle East. Low rise apartment buildings were built to accommodate the additional immigrants moving into the neighborhood.
The area was redeveloped in the 1950s, and in 1959, the name “Cobble Hill” was revived. People began buying and remodeling the brownstone row houses in the neighborhood. Cobble Hill was first designated as a landmarks district by the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1969, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Today, Cobble Hill remains a bustling residential neighborhood, popular with young families. Patrons enjoy the many shops and restaurants located on Smith and Court Streets. Along Atlantic Avenue, there are several Middle Eastern restaurants that were established when the Middle Eastern immigrants moved to the area in the 1920‘s. The neighborhood is accessible via the F and G subway lines.