Brokes populi: Do you care about DUMBO’s cobblestones?

by -
Road to nowhere or somewhere? via Flickr user JMazzolaa

There’s a fine line between historical preservation and needless fetishism. The Modern Lover may love the old world, but time marches on regardless, things break down and become inconvenient, and the question has to be asked: is it worth keeping this old thing? DUMBO is facing that exact question right now, now that the city has informed residents there that it wants to rip up and replace the old cobblestones that make up some of neighborhood’s streets.

Kim Velsey at the Observer did a good job going over the arguments both in favor and against changing the streets, pointing out the city’s “compliance with American with Disabilities Act” excuse comes 13 years after the ADA was passed and that replacing the old stones with faux-old cobblestones is expensive and hated by preservationists. On the other hand, a cobblestone street looks pretty stupid with cars parked all along it, and things like roads aren’t art, they’re conveyance infrastructure.

Despite being cyclists ourselves, we’re not totally sold on the city’s other reasoning for changing the streets, the it will make them more bike friendly. For starters, Brooklyn’s streets have nightmare potholes and divots even where there aren’t cobblestones. And you can just stand while you pedal on cobblestones. But then the Times talks to someone who says of DUMBO, “One of the positives was the inaccessibility of the area,” and you want to not only rip up the cobblestones but then throw the pieces through the person’s window. But, since we don’t live there, we’re not going to lecture DUMBO resident on how they should feel. But you can feel free to in the comments section!

Related Articles


RIP Watchtower sign, you held down the roof for a long, long while.


Superette, which opens tomorrow, sells (soy) chicharones, (small-batch) salsa, and is 150-square-feet but distinctly does not advertise itself as a bodega.


Get ready for a self-serve 'Beer ATM,' 'Big Ass Pretzels' and USB ports hanging from the ceiling at this techy dream beer playground.


Take to the streets Sunday to protest systemic racism in NYC and beyond.


  1. “And you can just stand while you pedal on the cobblestones.”

    That requires more skill than many kids or older people may have. We should make our streets accessible to all, not just the very able-bodied. Streets are for everybody.

    • Exactly. As far as I’m concerned, there shouldn’t be any discussion past the words “ADA non-compliant”. Rip those shits up.

  2. We should really keep them. Those cobblestoned streets are the last remaining streets with Brooklyn’s fabled trolly rails on them. Brooklyn is capitalizing on its great historical cache. Paving over it would be similar to denying your roots.

  3. This country doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to preserving its past. We’ve made some deplorable mistakes in the past (a la Penn Station, Singer Building, Old Metropolitan House, William Vanderbilt’s Petit Chateau, Biltmore Hotel, Savoy-Plaza Hotel, etc.) all in the name of “progress” and we mourn those losses everyday. It’s funny how we like to modernize everything, yet in 20 years we regret it.
    The cobblestone streets in DUMBO give the historic neighborhood an integral piece of its character. Obliterating a piece of history to appease old people, bicyclists, and women who want to wear high heels, seems ludicrous to me. Just go down another street.

Leave a Reply