Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn

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A cobblestone street on Hudson Avenue in Vinegar Hill

Vinegar Hill is a neighborhood in the borough of Brooklyn in New York City on the East River waterfront between Dumbo and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The neighborhood is locally governed by Brooklyn Community Board 2 and is policed by the NYPD's 84th[1] Precinct.

Vinegar Hill gets its name from the Battle of Vinegar Hill, an engagement near Enniscorthy during the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Originally settled by Irish immigrants, this community has maintained its 19th-century look while facing modernization and development from all sides.

Vinegar Hill stretches from the East River waterfront to Front Street and from the Brooklyn Navy Yard to Bridge Street, 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 Street, including what is now known as RAMBO. The neighborhood also includes the New York City Housing Authority's Farragut Houses.

Most of Vinegar Hill consists of 19th century Federal Style and Greek Revival style homes mixed with industrial buildings. The streets on Hudson Avenue, Plymouth, Water and Front are made of cobblestones.

Vinegar Hill in 1883 from the tower of the Brooklyn Bridge

The Vinegar Hill area includes the Vinegar Hill Historic District[2][3] and is home to the Con Edison Hudson Avenue Substation.

On the corner of Evans and Little Streets is Quarters A, the Commandant's House, a Federal Style mansion which was once home to Commodore Matthew C. Perry.[4]


Before 17th Century[edit]

Canarsee Indians[2] were first inhabitants on the land on the present downtown and west Brooklyn. Canarsee, members of the Algonquian linguistic group, occupied the Atlantic seaboard from Canada to the North Carolina.[5] They established their villages close to the water including the high ground near the Wallabout Bay which they called Rinnegokonck.[2] In the seventeenth century European explorers arrived on the land and started doing business with Indians.

17th Century[edit]

In the beginning of the seventeenth century primary residents were Canarsee Indians. At the same period of time Dutch people arrived and in 1637 the waterfront area up to Fulton street being sold by Indians to Joris Jansen Rapalje. Rapelje got the land for the farm purposes and it was renamed as Breuckelen in 1646. The first ferry was built at the bottom of Fulton street few years earlier in 1642. The ferry was connecting the land of Breuckelen with Manhattan side of the East River.

In 1674 the English took control over the land. At that moment Kings County consisted of six regions: Brooklyn, Bushwick, Flatbush, Flatlands, Gravesend, New Utrecht. The area of Brooklyn included the present Vinegar Hill district.[6]

East river side of Brooklyn and present Vinegar Hill area in 1767

18th Century[edit]

Commissioners of Forfeiture took hold of the land from Joris Jansen Rapalje and sold the area of Gold street to Comfort and Joshua Sands in 1784. Sands were planning to develop the land as a summer place for New Yorkers.[7] They built a lot of blocks for a community that was called “Olympia” in 1787.[8] In the late eighteenth century John Jackson bought 100 acres around of the waterfront area near the Wallabout Bay from Remsen estate and built there his own shipyard. He also built houses for the shipyard workers. In 1801 Jackson sold the area around Wallabout Bay to the government for use as a Navy Yard.

The historical reminder of the family Sand and Jackson are still seen on the maps as a names of the streets in the Vinegar Hill area.[9]


  1. ^ 84th Precinct, NYPD.
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Jaffe, Herman J. (1979). The Canarsee Indians: The Original Inhabitants. Brooklyn USA: The Fourth Largest City In America (Brooklyn: Brooklyn College Press). pp. 46–55. 
  6. ^ Presa, Donald G. (January 14, 1997). "Vinegar Hill Historic District, Designation Report" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. 
  7. ^ Jognson, Allen (1964). Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. pp. 341–342. 
  8. ^ The Olympia Settlement in Early Brooklyn. New York. 1929. 
  9. ^ Who Was Who in America. Chicago: The A.N. Marquis Co. 1963. p. 462. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°42′09″N 73°58′52″W / 40.702553°N 73.981086°W / 40.702553; -73.981086