Cobble Hill has become Brooklyn Heights, at least according to director Spike Lee.
In the runup to his newest film, Red Hook Summer, the creator of Brooklyn-based movies such as Do The Right Thing was featured in a lengthy interview with New York magazine's Vulture column in which he discussed growing up in Cobble Hill and how it has changed.
Lee lived at 186 Warren Street, between Henry and Clinton Streets, from 1961 to 1969. Back then, the director said it was "mobbed up," dominated by a strong Italian-American community. But he told the magazine that he doesn't take issue with new businesses selling "wheat germ and Pilates."
"That does not bother me," Lee told Vulture. "What bothers me is that these kids do not know the street games we grew up with. Stoop ball, stickball, cocolevio, crack the top, down the sewer, Johnny on the pony, red light green light one-two-three. These are New York City street games."
Lee goes on to say that his was the first black family to move into Cobble Hill.
"And we got called “n*****,” he told Vulture. "At that time, Cobble Hill was strong—I mean, strong—Italian-American, because of the docks. But as soon as the neighbors understood that there weren’t any other black families, it was not like a mass of black families moving in behind me, I was just like everybody else. It was a great time to grow up in Cobble Hill."
Lee told the magazine he would compare current-day Cobble Hill to Brooklyn Heights.
"But when I was growing up, the demarcation line was Atlantic Avenue," he said in the interview. "Brooklyn Heights was rich, Jewish. Atlantic Avenue was like the train tracks, and on the other side of Atlantic Avenue was Cobble Hill. It was mobbed up. When you crossed Atlantic Avenue, that was like going to another world."
Lest locals take offense to any negative connotation that Lee's words may have, rest assured his opinions of most other Brooklyn neighborhoods are pretty much the same.
"It’s all different," he told Vulture. "There’s gentrification of Cobble Hill. Fort Greene’s gentrified, Harlem was gentrified, Bed-Stuy’s gentrified, and Williamsburg is gentrified."
What do you think, readers? Has Cobble Hill become another variation on Brooklyn Heights? How do you feel about Lee's memories and description?