Since its inception Cobble Hill has been a residential enclave for professionals. Initial development during the mid-nineteenth century was spurred by its proximity to the South Ferry service to Lower Manhattan that opened in 1836. Because virtually the entire neighborhood is included in the Cobble Hill Historic District, so designated December 30, 1969, the architectural integrity of its brownstone rowhouses has been remarkably well preserved. Continuous efforts are underway to preserve, maintain and restore the historic bluestone sidewalks that line the residential streets, an essential characteristic of the area. In fact, local civics continue to lobby the City for area-wide installation of bluestone sidewalks and historic replica street lighting for the whole neighborhood. Cobble Hill has the lowest unemployment levels (at 3.1% per 1990 Census) relative to any other neighborhood in the district. The neighborhood also has the highest proportion of seniors in the district (16.3% of Cobble Hill is over 65 per 1990 Census), many of whom reside in the Cobble Hill Health Center. Cobble Hill Park, a predominantly passive recreation park, is heavily utilized while the three vest-pocket parks on Henry Street created by the Long Island College Hospital (LICH) provide more active recreational open space for small children and additional passive recreation space. LICH’s other land holdings, with the potential for the reconfiguration of medical and health service space, are typically among the neighborhood’s ongoing concerns.
Cobble Hill is abuzz with pedestrian activity on its Court Street commercial strip as evidenced by an explosion of unenclosed sidewalk cafes that have popped up over the past few years. Cobble Hill shares the same north-south local streets as Carroll Gardens to the south and Brooklyn Heights to the north; as such they endure a heavy volume of commuter traffic flowing through the neighborhood. A broad-based grassroots movement has begun lobbying for a full investigation into the problems suffered by Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and the Columbia Street District resulting from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway Trench that divides these communities along Hicks Street. Traffic encroachments from Downtown Brooklyn, resulting from the booming development and ongoing problems with agency vehicles bearing on-street City parking permits used for personal commuting, usurp the precious few metered parking spaces at Atlantic Avenue and Court Street. The abuse of permits especially has had a negative impact on lost revenue for the merchants and the City alike, and has worsened constrained on-street parking conditions. Atlantic Avenue has become the subject of its own master design planning effort. The goal of the effort is to capitalize and harmonize its multiplicity of uses (i.e., regional shopping destination, local commercial strip, traffic corridor, etc.) particularly in relation to two other major regional planning efforts underway, specifically, the Brooklyn Bridge Park project at the waterfront and the BAM cultural district in the Atlantic/Flatbush Avenues vicinity.