In Cobble Hill, one of Brooklyn’s oldest and loveliest neighborhoods, stately brownstones line shady residential streets (some of which are still covered in slate pavers). The neighborhood falls almost entirely within the boundaries of a historic district designated in 1969. Like Brooklyn Heights (its neighbor to the north, across Atlantic Avenue) Cobble Hill was largely built-up in the latter half of the 19thcentury. Over the years, many Cobble Hill residences were converted to multi-family rentals. But more recently, the well-to-do families that now favor the neighborhood have reversed that trend, restoring the brownstones to something closer to original condition. Visitors today find Cobble Hill’s 19th-century charms more intact than ever, and paired with the neighborhood’s charismatic commercial strip.
Take the F or G train to Bergen Street and you’ll disembark on Smith Street. One block west is Court Street, Cobble Hill’s eastern boundary and its primary commercial artery. On Court Street, you’ll find thriving local businesses of all vintages. At Staubitz Market, a butcher shop and specialty food store in operation since 1917, you’ll find an 80-year-old cash register, sawdust on the floors and top-quality meat. Cobble Hill Cinema, a theater opened in the 1960s, currently shows a mix of first-run, foreign and independent films on its five screens. Book Court, established 1981, is a popular hangout for neighborhood literary types.
At the center of the neighborhood is Cobble Hill Park, which is a good place to people watch and immerse yourself in the neighborhood’s charm. (Ideally with a cup of coffee and a homemade pop tart from the Ted and Honey café.) The picturesque park, built in 1897, is a popular location for movie and commercial shoots. Indeed, the whole neighborhood is so well maintained, and its architecture so uniformly of another era, it’s common to stumble onto a film set. Architecture buffs may want to walk past Cobble Hill Towers, an 1879 landmark built by philanthropist Alfred T. White in a then-revolutionary design intended to provide safe and hygienic housing for the working class. The complex’s nine six-story redbrick buildings (facing Hicks, Warren and Baltic Streets) surround two private central courtyards; the exterior stairwells (built for fire safety) are visible from the street.
Cobble Hill is bounded by Atlantic Avenue (Brooklyn Heights lies across the avenue), Degraw Street (Carroll Gardens), Court Street (Boerum Hill) and Hicks Street, which runs along the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. While the neighborhood is considered to be extremely safe, and Court Street and Atlantic Avenue stay lively late into the night, residential streets — particularly those closer to Hicks Street — can be deserted late at night. Common sense rules apply here, as in other areas of the city. If you want to catch a cab, head for Clinton Street.