Nestled between symbols of urban industrialization and modern residential development (aka a Con Edison plant and glass condos), Vinegar Hill is a five-block square cobble-stoned neighborhood next to the Manhattan Bridge that seems to have been preserved in time circa the nineteenth century. This break in the time-space continuum is perpetuated by a sudden loss of ambient noise, that constant hum of urban activity, and the conspicuous absence of crowds. Curtained storefronts, iron gates, and unkempt greenery beyond fenced-off properties only further the mystery.
Named after a battle site in the Irish Rebellion, the land that is now Vinegar Hill was purchased in 1800 and settled by Irish working-class immigrants. The residential architecture consists of brownstones and frame houses in either the Federal style or Greek Revival/Italianate styles. Interspersed are factories and industrial buildings, the remnants of a once bustling community. Like most urban historical neighborhoods, Vinegar Hill has shrunk into an enclave as development began to encroach on its periphery. The Brownstoner tracks real-estate development and places of interest in the area, but a quick walk in any direction reveals the negotiation between private development and public works (low income-housing projects), neighborhood continuity and transportation initiatives (the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway).
What to Eat: Vinegar Hill House at 72 Hudson Avenue. From the ex-chef of Freemans, continuing the tradition of old world charm in Brooklyn. Camouflaging perfectly in the neighbrohood, the dÃ©cor is built predominantly from repurposed materials, with no sign except for the address “seventy-two” in glass mosaic above the doorway.
How to Get There: Subway – F train to York St., A/C to High St.
All photos by Michelle Young.