Origins of the CHA

by Rebecca Johnson

With brownstones in the neighborhood selling for millions of dollars, it’s hard to believe that the Cobble Hill of  the 1950’s was a low income area suffering from urban blight.  In 1958, city officials announced plans to raze the entire black of Pacific Street between Clinton and Hicks in order to construct a public housing project on Atlantic Avenue. The Cobble Hill Association was created on November 14 of that year “to oppose slum clearance for Cobble Hill.” The fight raged for years, prompting the memorable New York Post headline, “THE SECOND BATTLE OF BROOKLYN.” In 1962, the plans were abandoned, but the area continued to be viewed as a dismal slum. In 1967, a LICH official noted that the hospital “is located in a low income area.”

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The next big fight for the CHA concerned a proposal to build a supermarket on the site now occupied by the Cobble Hill Park. The Association vigorously fought the proposal, advocating for the current vest-pocket park which now occupies the site.

Mindful that the neighborhood needed permanent protection to keep its historic character intact, the CHA initiated the drive in 1965 to get the neighborhood designated a historic district under the newly passed Landmark Preservation Law.

–adapted from Cobble Hill-A Slum? By Dick Hayes , The Cobble Hill Courier, 1984

Also see CHA Timeline: History of Achievements