Encompassing much of the Brooklyn Heights’ neighborhood near the East River, this was the first New York City historic district to be designated by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. The initial development of Brooklyn Heights as a residential suburb began in the early nineteenth century when a few large landowners acquired almost the entire heights overlooking Manhattan. In 1802 one of the landowners, a merchant named Hezekiah Beers Pierrepont, had his property surveyed into streets in anticipation of the eventual incorporation of Brooklyn Village. In the 1940s Parks Commissioner Robert Moses proposed the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, which would bisect the heights. However, strong opposition from the neighborhood led to a compromise which resulted in the interstate highway being built along the western edge of Brooklyn Heights and being topped with a cantilevered esplanade, known as the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.
Approximately bounded by Old Fulton Street on the north, the Brooklyn Queens Expressway on the west, Atlantic Avenue on the south, and an irregular line that partially follows Clinton and Henry Streets on the east, the 140-acre historic district is characterized by a diversity of Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, and Anglo-Italianate townhouses, mansions, and churches, retaining much of the atmosphere of a nineteenth century urban community. Immaculate brownstone townhouses, stone sidewalks, and well-tended street trees lend the neighborhood an air of elegance. To its west is the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, a 1/3-mile cantilevered pedestrian walkway constructed in 1946. Clarke & Rapuano served as the landscape architects for the project, which features a simple and revolutionary design dotted with lampposts, trees, and benches, and a carpet of hexagonal asphalt pavers. The neighborhood was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1965, and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.