Photo by Marc Yearsley/Gothamist

It's looking like the next victim in the war on nostalgia history will be the cobblestones and Belgian blocks of DUMBO and Vinegar Hill. As beloved by historically-minded residents as they are reviled by bikers, the neighborhood's Belgian blocks are being yanked out and patched up by the Department of Transportation in an effort to make the neighborhoods more biker- and handicap-accessible. Transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said in a statement that the project would “restore the street’s historical elegance while removing stumbling blocks for the thousands of people walking and biking in the neighborhood daily.”

The historic blocks certainly add to a neighborhood's character, but are the bane of many commuters—and not just bikers, but plain old pedestrians, especially those in heels. "When I want to wear heels, I can't," a real estate agent who works in DUMBO told us this afternoon. "Sometimes even when I'm wearing sneakers it's rough. It's a very rough surface." The DOT plans to replace the original, hand-cut cobblestones with laser-cut, uniform stones, bringing the streets up to code with the Americans With Disabilities Act, which requires crosswalk stones must vary by no more than a quarter of an inch.

But the laser-cut blocks do not appeal to everyone's eye. For many, the cobblestones and blocks help define the historic character of the neighborhood. Roger, who works in DUMBO, told us, "I've heard of people falling off their bikes, spraining their ankles. But just don't ride your bike there." Another local employee added "It's not do or die…don't wear heels."

The current Belgian blocks (which are technically different from cobblestones, but hey, who's counting?) are over a century old, and each is hand-cut and hand-rounded. The DOT's replacement stones, which have already appeared on some streets in DUMBO, are put through a tumbler before installation, to give them the appearance of historicity (the DOT mastermind behind the plan apparently got the idea after buying a pair of pre-ripped jeans, promising the "new" cobblestones will have that "100% Authentic Vintage New York City Tourist-Ready look").

While most will argue for the Belgian block and cobblestones' historic value — even the DUMBO real estate agent, who wishes she could wear heels, admitted, "I do like the cobblestones, it's very historic... I can still get from point A to point B" — we did find one local who has already picked his side in the war on history. Even in "flat shoes," said Jeff, who works in DUMBO, walking on them "sucks."  On those who argue for the historic and aesthetic merits of the original stones, this Bard below the bridge declared: "It's dumb."

Additional reporting by Marc Yearsley