Vinegar Hill gets its name from the Battle of Vinegar Hill, an engagement near Enniscorthy during the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Originally settled by the Irish, this community has maintained its 19th Century look while facing modernization and development from all sides.
I’ve been photographing Vinegar Hill in Brooklyn, New York ever since I discovered it about 7 years ago. I was riding my bike in direction to DUMBO, determined to find an easier way to commute to work. Before cell phones had GPS integrated, I decided to take a stroll one weekend and check out the presumed route that would get me there. I rode along the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Flushing Ave. and made a turn on Navy Street which let me right to Hudson Ave.
Here I was on this narrow cobblestone block full of 19th century Federal style homes. Did I just travel back in time on my bike? What is this magical place that is such a contrast from it’s next neighborhood which is full of industrial warehouses?!
I did my research and discovered that I stumbled upon Vinegar Hill, a protected historic neighborhood that has been around since the 1800’s. It has a street lined with gorgeous brownstone homes and homes with store front looks that have signs like Butcher Shop, Barber Shop painted on their windows.
There isn’t much activity going on which gives this tiny neighborhood a mysterious feel. How could this possibly exist in such a busy city like New York?! I still enjoy visiting Vinegar Hill even though it’s a place that goes through very little change, other than the obvious season change (hence snow and no snow pictures). It is a quiet almost desolate area with lots of charm and on the rare occasion you might see someone walking in or out of any of these buildings. Because of it’s rarity in NYC, you will definitely run into another photographer who is as curious as you in documenting this rarely know but not so secret spot.
Vinegar Hill stretches from the East River waterfront to Front St and from the Brooklyn Navy Yard to Bridge St, roughly comprising a six block area, although, before the construction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in the 1950s, Vinegar Hill’s area was significantly larger, extending south to Tillary St.
Most of Vinegar Hill consists of 19th Century Federal Style and Greek Revival style homes mixed with industrial buildings. The streets on Hudson Ave, Plymouth, Water and Front are made of Cobblestones. The Vinegar Hill area includes the Vinegar Hill Historic District 23 and is home to the Con Edison Hudson Ave Substation. On the corner of Evans and Little streets is Quarters A, the Commandant’s House, a Federal Style mansion.
Information taken from Wikipedia:
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