On The Waterfront A Look at Cobble Hill

Cobble Hill, Brooklyn has undergone a tremendous transformation from its days as a waterfront marketplace. The commercial makeover of Smith Street has transformed the locale into a thoroughfare of popular restaurants and today, it's considered the destination where young professional couples can buy more affordable historic homes and raise their families.

Cobble Hill and the surrounding areas, including Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, Red Hook and Park Slope, were one of the six original Dutch villages that make up the borough of Brooklyn, formerly known as South Brooklyn. But Cobble Hill was only given its moniker in the 1970s, when an enterprising real estate agent renamed the area because she wanted a nicer name to entice buyers.

"There's a misconception though; there are no cobblestone streets here," says Francis Morrone, an architectural historian and author of An Architectural Guidebook to Brooklyn. "The broker looked at an 18th century area map and named the area after a hill - Cobble Hill - the site of the fortification of the Continental Army at the beginning of the Revolutionary War."

According to Morrone, the Cobble Hill area was founded in the 1830s, and is a southern neighbor to Brooklyn's oldest and most distinguished neighborhood, Brooklyn Heights. The two areas are separated only by Atlantic Avenue. "Brooklyn Heights was a little more affluent than Cobble Hill," says Morrone. "Cobble Hill was considered a slight rung down on the social ladder."

In the 1830s and "˜40s, the architectural style of the homes was red brick - simple, charming Greek revival houses - with spectacular iron railings and fences. "One of the first things people will notice is the profusion of magnificent ironwork," says Morrone. In the 1850s, more homes were built, but the architectural style changed from Greek revival to Italian or Renaissance revival. "That's when brownstone was used," says Morrone. "Cobble Hill has a great deal of brownstone and red brick homes."

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