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Cobblestoned Vinegar Hill block is a rocky road • Brooklyn Paper

Cobblestoned Vinegar Hill block is a rocky road

Take it easy: The more-than-a-century-old Belgian blocks on Front Street are giving locals a reason to slow down.
Community News Group / Lauren Gill

Call it Vinegar Hill Country!

An ancient cobblestoned stretch of Front Street has cars bumping and bouncing all over the place, forcing motorists to slow to a crawl so they don’t end up losing their lunch or their suspension.

“Have you seen the condition of the street?” said Jay Mandoch, who drives his truck down the choppy stretch between Gold Street and Hudson Avenue once a week. “It’s not even even, and has a whole lot of holes, so it slows me down.”

The thoroughfare boasts some of Brooklyn’s last remaining Belgian blocks, which were hand cut and laid down more than a century ago. The city has since paved over many of timepieces or replaced them with artificially-aged replacements to even the streets out for drivers and cyclists — much to the annoyance of local preservationists. But this waterfront block remains much as it did when the area was part of the working waterfront.

The rugged terrain often trips up newcomers, but some who regularly traverse the rocky road say they don’t mind having an excuse to slow their roll.

“I don’t mind it because it’s only one block and I’m used to it,” said Jerome Tyler, who navigates the stretch daily to pick up his kids from PS 307, which backs onto the street. “I know to slow down and take my time.”

In fact, some locals would like to see the Department of Transportation restore more of the area’s cobblestones to act as de facto speed bumps.

“It would ensure traffic calming,” said Doreen Gallo, who is president of the Dumbo Neighborhood Alliance and has been leading a charge to bring the blocks back.

Other fans just like how they look, saying they are an iconic part of the neighborhood that many cities and theme parks attempt to replicate.

“It’s hard to drive on them, but they’re really cute and unique and charming and wonderful,” said Susanna Crall, a Bedford-Stuyvesant resident who works at popular eatery Vinegar Hill House on Hudson Avenue.

The Department of Transportation said it does plan to resurface parts of Front Street for an upcoming street reconstruction project, but refused to say where or how.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

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