History of Clinton Hill


The area that we know  today as Clinton Hill was originally a suburban retreat on the outskirts of Brooklyn in the 1880s. It began as a quiet middle-class area that evolved into an area of great wealth until the 1920s. When the era of great wealth ended, the wealthy moved back to Manhattan and the area became gentrified.

Even so, the architecture left behind by the wealthy gave Clinton Hill a diverse architectural style. The remaining buildings of the Pratt Residence and the Marshall Driggs Residence illustrate the prosperity that once inhabited the area.

The area in Clinton Hill has been constantly changing; the lines of division take areas away from Fort Greene and Bedford-Stuyvesant to create the area that we know as Clinton Hill. The area is so haphazardly divided that there is no clear distinction in the area that separates Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Bedford-Stuyvesant. The northern portion of Clinton Hill, around Washington Avenue and Clinton Avenue, is mainly a middle class neighborhood. The middle and southern regions are home to the poorer residents of the neighborhood, many of which can be considered as living in poverty.

Very few residents that currently live in the area claim that they are able to afford the new properties that are being built. Perhaps the best encapsulation of the changes in the neighborhood is told in this Daily News article. It recounts the listing of the childhood home of The Notorious B.I.G., otherwise known as Biggie Smalls, as well as the total hipster makeover of the neighborhood. Though most of Biggie’s lyrics regarding his old prowling grounds characterize it as a poor, decrepit, and dangerous place to live, they would not be applicable to today’s Clinton Hill; his apartment has recently been listed for $725K, (according to Streeteasy, that comes out whopping $842 per foot!) crime rates have been dropping precipitously, and according that Daily News article, a fancy French bistro recently opened up just down the block.