About Us

Caring for Brooklyn Heights

In Brooklyn Heights, change has brought challenges to what makes this neighborhood special. The BHA has long worked at the intersection of the forces of change and the desire to preserve and protect — not only our unique historic architecture, but also the safe, family-friendly community we care so deeply about.

Mission

The mission of the BHA is to engage the Brooklyn Heights community in maintaining and improving the quality of life in our neighborhood. While preserving the physical fabric of this historic neighborhood has always been essential to our mission, equally and increasingly important is our role as a strong advocate for the community on other timely and critical matters — from access to good schools for our children, to neighborhood security and traffic safety as our streets grow more crowded, and to addressing potential threats that emerge as a result of the growing scale of real estate development in and around the Heights.

The BHA is the organized voice of the Heights. We work to preserve our historic buildings, protect the views, advocate for thoughtful urban planning, and promote safety and security on our streets. When there is a threat, we help to organize the community's response. So whether you rent a studio, own a brownstone, or live in a high-rise, we work to protect everyone’s stake in this neighborhood. That's why membership in the BHA is so important. The more members we have, the stronger our voice; the more financial support we generate, the more impact we have in pursuing actions to protect and advance the community’s interests; and the more volunteers we enlist, the more we can accomplish as a neighborhood. We encourage you to click here to support us.

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The BHA can now reflect on more than 100 years of service. Along the way some of our priorities have changed, but many remain strikingly similar. What has the BHA achieved over the years? And what would this neighborhood be like without the BHA? Take a walk through our history to see the key initiatives we've led or contributed to, including those that have been essential to the very survival of the neighborhood as we know it today.

A Walk

Through History

BHA Milestones 1910- 2015

1910
  • The Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) is founded. Today it is the city's oldest ongoing neighborhood association. This New York Times article (Feb. 6, 1910) reports on a stormy meeting marking the beginning.

  • BHA forms Traffic, Zoning and Parks Committees, which continue to the present day to advocate for well-regulated traffic, well-maintained parks and intelligent land use.

  • BHA advocacy leads to the creation of Cadman Plaza Park on the site where the City demolishes the elevated tracks and transit station at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge.

  • BHA plants 1,081 trees in the Heights. These London Plane trees along leafy Willow Place are part of that legacy.

  • BHA opposition to the proposed route of the BQE through the middle of the Heights on Hicks Street results in the triple cantilever at the edge of the Heights, topped by the now world-famous Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

  • BHA advocacy defeats Robert Moses’ Cadman Plaza urban renewal plan, resulting in narrower, less disruptive buildings and affordable family-sized co-ops rather than luxury one-bedroom rentals.

  • After five years of intensive advocacy by the BHA, the NYC Landmarks Law passes, stopping the rampant destruction of the city’s architectural heritage. The law is critical to Brooklyn Heights becoming the City’s first Historic District.

  • BHA is instrumental in the designation of Brooklyn Heights as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior, leading to its designation later in the year as the City’s first Historic District.

  • BHA wins the 50-foot building height limit for Brooklyn Heights. This hard-fought zoning victory has greatly contributed to maintaining the low-rise character of the neighborhood.

  • BHA helps defeat the Atlantic Authority bill, preventing destruction of the south Heights by a multi-lane expressway.

  • BHA plans the conversion of the Pierrepont Hotel into housing for the elderly.

  • BHA launches its first House Tour, a tradition it maintains for 31 years.

  • BHA plays a central role in what will become Brooklyn Bridge Park, hiring a planning firm to set guidelines for the redevelopment of Piers 1-5. That history is told in this monograph by Scott M. Hand and Otis Pratt Pearsall.

  • BHA blocks a 30-story building planned by the Watchtower Society at the foot of Columbia Heights.

  • BHA organizes a community coalition of neighborhoods to preserve the downtown Brooklyn waterfront for the whole borough.

  • Otis Pratt Pearsall (seen with wife Nancy) receives the Historic District Council’s “Landmark Lions” Award. This legendary Heights preservationist and former BHA governor was pivotal in the struggle for Brooklyn Heights’ designation as the first NYC historic district. See his retelling of the story here.

  • BHA inaugurates and seeds Project Sweep, employing the developmentally disabled to keep Montague Street clean.

  • BHA lays the groundwork for the Montague Street Business Improvement District.

  • BHA featured in a New York Times feature story, “Brownstone Warriors,” lauding the association’s critical role in protecting the neighborhood over many years.

  • BHA provides a grant to the Parks Department to pay for an irrigation system in the Promenade Gardens.

  • BHA advocacy leads to an agreement with the City for a Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Program.

  • BHA helps focus attention on PS 8, rallies neighborhood parents and brings financial help to the school.

  • BHA succeeds in significantly scaling back the City's Office of Emergency Management headquarters in Cadman Park

  • BHA organizes a community coalition to monitor and critique the City's massive development plans for Downtown Brooklyn.

  • BHA leads the plan to renovate Cadman Park, which opens with a newly renovated playing field in 2006.

  • BHA advocacy leads to the award-winning restoration of 135 Joralemon Street. For more on the history of this unique home, see this Brownstoner story.

  • BHA funds the planting of 27 trees in Brooklyn Heights and is honored by PS 8 for its support of the school.

  • BHA launches the Promenade Gardens Conservancy, a public-private partnership, to ensure the continued maintenance of the plantings along the Promenade.

  • BHA commemorates its 100th anniversary.

  • BHA wins settlement over the illegal disposition of the Tobacco Warehouse, resulting in additional parkland for Brooklyn Bridge Park. The New York Landmarks Conservancy described the significance of the decision here.

  • BHA's proposed Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District is designated by the NYC Landmarks Commission. For more information, see the Commission’s report here.

  • BHA secures Federal funding for the installation of historic street lamps throughout the south Heights.

  • BHA’s successful application results in Brooklyn Heights winning Neighborhood Slow Zone designation, bringing the installation of speed humps and 20 mph speed restriction throughout the neighborhood. For more on the Slow Zone implementation, go here.

1910
2015

President's Message