Vinegar Hill, NYC Tour
Situated along the East River in northern Brooklyn, New York City, Vinegar Hill is a historic district that consists of just a few blocks. This neighborhood is strongly affiliated with naval yards that produced massive vessels for the nation. Featuring Belgian-style blocks and narrow alleys, Vinegar Hill has a unique urban charm that’s ideal for walking tours.
Attractions and Sightseeing
Built in the early 19th century, the Commandant’s House is the most prominent landmark in Vinegar Hill. Some records indicate that this residence was designed by the famous architect Charles Bulfinch, who contributed to the design of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.
As the name suggests, the Commandant’s House was home to commanders of the United States Navy during the 19th and 20th centuries. Since the 1970s, the property has been privately owned, and visitors can only get a glimpse of it through gates and fences.
As you walk the historic streets of Vinegar Hill, it’ll be difficult to avoid the area’s industrial character. The Con Edison Hudson Avenue Substation is a major installation that dominates the scene in this district. This facility has generated electricity for Brooklyn and the surrounding boroughs for most of the 20th century.
Several traditional smokestacks have been removed from the complex, which stands as a perfect example of a bygone era of electricity generation in a residential neighborhood. Leaders in Brooklyn have recently proposed some plans to decommission the Con Edison Hudson Avenue Substation.
Some of the streets in Vinegar Hill are lined with Belgian-style blocks that have been originally laid in the early late 18th and early 19th centuries. These narrow streets haven’t been significantly altered to accommodate vehicular traffic. As you stroll Plymouth Street, you’ll appreciate the stark contrast between a colonial-style thoroughfare and contemporary urban infrastructure.
Vinegar Hill is named after a foreign military campaign that occurred thousands of miles away. The Battle of Vinegar Hill involved massive clashes between British troops and the United Irish rebels in 1798.
During the early 19th century, this area of Brooklyn was heavily settled by Irish immigrants. Consequently, the recent arrivals proudly named the neighborhood to commemorate their fight in the homeland. For most of the 19th century, the economy of Vinegar Hill was dominated by the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Today, the district is lined with elegant residential homes and some outdated commercial infrastructure that will likely get replaced in the near future.
Location and Transportation
Vinegar Hill occupies a small portion of the tip of northern Brooklyn. The East River marks the northern boundary of this historic district, which is neighboured by DUMBO.
Due to its historic layout, Vinegar Hill has relatively narrow streets that cut through densely developed blocks. You’ll need to drive slowly on some of the streets that are covered in original cobblestones rather than smooth asphalt or concrete.
Served by the F Line of the New York City Subway, the York Street station is located a few blocks away from the southwestern tip of the neighborhood. This rapid transit line runs through most of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) provides limited service in Vinegar Hill. However, there are plenty of stops in the neighboring DUMBO district, which also has some terminals and docks that are served by the NYC Ferry.