Cobblestone streets are abundant in Brooklyn. During a recent visit I was introduced to the charming area known as “Dumbo” (Down Under The Manhattan Bridge). It had everything I was hoping for; plenty of streets covered in authentic hundred-year-old worn and weathered cobblestones. The cobblestones we import come from Europe, so this was certainly a more accessible as well as satisfying substitute!
There are nearly 15 miles of cobblestone streets in New York, but Dumbo is particularly appealing. The location itself, feels separate and special from the city. It is positioned near the water’s edge in Brooklyn across from Manhattan, with many old historic buildings now turned into restaurants full of character or charming local bars, trendy shopping and theatres as well.
In recent years, in an effort to make the streets of Dumbo more accessible and bike-friendly, the city has delivered a troubling message to residents who say they were drawn to the neighborhoods for their historic feel: Many of the old cobblestones also referred to as Belgian Blocks, have to be replaced.
The city/DOT are using more uniform stones, including ones cut with machines and lasers, much to the dislike of preservationist and locals that moved there for the charm of the authentic cobblestone. However, the cobbles in Dumbo are more irregular than what is found in the rest of the city’s cobblestone streets.
In the interest of safety, it is understandable. The DOT is doing the best they can to balance out the visual appeal with ADA requirements and pedestrian concerns. In time, the new cobbles will age and blend in with the old, and the other areas of New York with authentic cobble streets will hopefully withstand the test of time and keep their original place. It’s a lovely place to stroll and enjoy a classic Brooklyn/New York experience.