Hood Story 1: Cobble Hill

Winston Churchill’s mother lived there and so did American movie director Spike Lee. It was one of the first neighborhood to experiment with affordable housing, and is named after a Hill captured by the British during the American Revolutionary war… What neighborhood is this? The one and only… Cobble Hill.

Cobble Hill neighborhood boundaries
Cobble Hill sits between Carroll Gardens and Brooklyn Heights.

Welcome to Hood Story, and in this episode we will cover Cobble Hill, a small neighborhood in Brooklyn that got its name from a conically shaped hill called Ponkiesberg… Dutch for Cobble Hill.  During the Revolutionary War, this hill was turned into a Fort and used as an observation post by George Washington himself. The Hill was later destroyed by the British, and its spot is now home to a Trader Joe’s.

Welcome to Cobble Hill, a small paradise for young children.

Cobble Hill is known for its peacefulness, perfect for those seeking to escape the noise of the city. But what is its story? What are its major achievements? A glance at its history will give us some answers. Afterwards, we will analyze Cobble Hill as a potential place to explore. The dimensions we will look at are: Transportation, Amenities, Community, Real Estate, and Tribe. Let’s begin!

History

Cobble Hill became an independent neighborhood in 1810. By the 1830s, it started seeing heavy development due to its active port which attracted many German and Irish craftsmen. As the wealthy poured in however, housing prices became increasingly unaffordable. This sparked one of the most original achievements Cobble Hill has under its belt. In the 1870s, Cobble Hill was one of the first neighborhood to experiment with low income housing in the entire country.

Workman’s Cottage, one of the first low income housing experiments in the country. A must see for explorers!

The Cobble Hill Towers and the Warren Place Mews served as a social experiment to provide the working class of cobble hill affordable housing. Rent prices at the cottage were only $7.20 a month, about $168 in today’s dollar. This housing experiment was sponsored by Alfred Treadway White, a Brooklyn merchant and philanthropist. Today, these buildings are now landmarks and are anything but affordable. Cottages are priced into the millions and rent there are as high as $5,000 a month. Sir Alfred would roll over in his grave at these prices.

Cobble Hill is also a neighborhood filled with historic architecture. It is home to numerous rejuvenated Brownstones, gothic churches, and romanesque revival style buildings. This architectural streak lead Cobble Hill to be crowned as a Historical District by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1969. Another achievement!

Transportation

Trains are the veins and arteries of a city. A neighborhood with poor transit is cut off from the flow of life.

In terms of transit, Cobble Hill scores very well. The 2,3,4,5,R,F and G train are all nearby. Combined, these trains give you access to pretty much all of New York City. Therefore, It is easy for explorers to come in and out of Cobble Hill.

Amenities 

Cobble Hill has many preschools, so it is a neighborhood that caters to young families.

Every neighborhood has a top selling amenity, the one thing people move there for. For Cobble Hill, its #1 amenity is actually a school- PS 29. Students of this elementary school score far above the state average. As you can imagine, lots of families with young children move to Cobble Hill for this reason alone.

The neighborhood also possesses many pre-schools, including one that uses the Montessori method. Functionally therefore, Cobble Hill grounds itself as a place that serves young families.

Community

Cobble Hill has a communal aura one can feel by just walking a few blocks. Locals often greet each other, books are left on doorsteps for anyone to pick up, and history is filled with cases where residents banded together to shut down commercial projects they felt were inappropriate. This place feels like a community, and is one. Families in Cobble Hill tend know each other and residents are very friendly.

Real Estate

Cobble Hill is a neighborhood filled with romanesque and gothic architecture, making it a historic district.

Everything in Cobble Hill so far looked great… until I looked at the rent. The average 1BR price is a whoping $3100. Modest for the wealthy perhaps, but out of reach for most.  This is a big neighborhood drawback, for this sort of price tag tends to kill diversity both socially and commercially.

Tribe

A tribe is a group of people who share common values.

What tribes live in Cobble Hill? Those of you unfamiliar with the word, a tribe is a group of people who share common values. Judging from observation, Cobble Hillers appear to be families with young children. In other words, the dominant tribe there is young parents.

As for the explorers, Cobble Hill should be scouted if you have a taste for architecture or want to study the upper middle class population of New York.  I also found two secret spots in Cobble Hill worth visiting. You can use the CityXcape app to find them!

We now end the story of Cobble Hill. One of the first neighborhood to experiment with low income housing, an official historical district, and a neighborhood whose top amenities are schools. Don’t forget to subscribe if you enjoyed this article. See you in the next episode!

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