In 1798, the British Army crushed an Irish revolution at the Battle of Vinegar Hill in County Wexford, Ireland. Many Irish immigrated to New York in the aftermath, and a significant number of them settled between the current sites of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Navy Yard. John Jackson, a wealthy shipbuilder who owned the land, named it Vinegar Hill in honor of the Irish patriots. In 1801, the U.S. Government established the Navy Yard, which grew rapidly during the War of 1812. The neighboring Vinegar Hill area grew as well, with housing development spurred by the increase in Navy Yard jobs. By the turn of the twentieth century, the district was a dense residential, industrial, and commercial neighborhood.
This area was acutely changed due to later development, including the Manhattan Bridge approach, new warehouses and factories, and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. By the 1950s, the remnants of the once vital area were nearly obliterated. The Navy Yard closed in 1966, resulting in the shutting down of many nearby warehouses and factories. However, beginning in the 1970s, diverse newcomers began to arrive in the all but abandoned area, rehabilitating houses and converting many warehouses into loft space.
This designation covers three isolated pockets containing thirty-nine buildings, mostly Greek Revival row houses, dating from 1830 to 1850. In Vinegar Hill, the style is expressed with pedimented windows and doors, denticulated cornices, and acanthus-leaf ironwork.
Plans by the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative and the Department of Transportation to create bike lanes on Water and Plymouth Streets are currently opposed by residents concerned with the preservation of the historic Belgian cobblestones in the district. ©2014