Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
Bay Ridge is a neighborhood in the southwest corner of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, New York City. It is bounded by Sunset Park on the north, Dyker Heights on the east, the Narrows and the Belt Parkway on the west, and the Verrazano Bridge on the south. While some consider Fort Hamilton a separate neighborhood, it is usually considered a part of Bay Ridge. Fort Hamilton and most of Bay Ridge share the ZIP code of 11209; the remainder is in 11220, where the Bay Ridge Post Office is.
The first Dutch settlers began farming here in the 17th century. Well into the 19th century, what’s now considered Bay Ridge consisted of two sister villages: Yellow Hook to the north, named for the color of the soil, and Fort Hamilton to the south, named for the military installation at its center. The latter began to develop in the 1830s as a resort destination to lodge visitors to the army base. The former began to develop after 1850, when a group of artists moved to the area and founded a colony called Ovington Village; before that, it was mostly farmland.
Yellow Hook and Fort Hamilton were struck repeatedly by yellow fever in the 19th century; by 1853, village leaders met and decided to change the community’s name to avoid association with the color, choosing "Bay Ridge," which had been suggested by local horticulturist James Weir after the area’s most prominent geographic features: the high ridge that offered views of New York Bay. Such natural beauty attracted not only artists but also the wealthy, who built mansions along Shore Road, overlooking the water, some of which still stand and are worth millions of dollars.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many Norwegian and Danish sailors emigrated to Brooklyn, including Bay Ridge and neighboring Sunset Park; Lapskaus Boulevard was the nickname of Eighth Avenue in this area. Development took off after the Fourth Avenue subway (today's R train) arrived in 1916, and accelerated through the 1920s, when the number of apartment buildings increased fivefold, replacing old farms, homesteads and houses.
Construction of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Bay Ridge to Staten Island, was completed in 1964. Though now an iconic structure, it was bitterly opposed by residents because it would require the demolition of many homes and businesses. Eight hundred buildings were destroyed, displacing 7,000 people, to make room for the bridge and its approach. Also destroyed was Fort Lafayette, part of New York City's defense system along with Fort Hamilton and Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island, replaced by the base of the bridge's east tower.
The 2007 Brooklyn tornado hit this area, specifically 68th Street and Bay Ridge Avenue between Third and Fourth avenues. Eleven houses had to be vacated after they suffered significant damage, and many of the trees on the two blocks toppled, landing on cars and stoops. The 4th Avenue Presbyterian Church had its very large stained glass window blown out. As the tornado lifted, it peeled the roof of a nearby Nissan dealership and deforested 40% of Leif Ericson Park. The tornado has been rated an EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, with winds between 111 and 135 MPH.
Bay Ridge is a largely middle-class neighborhood. With its strong family presence, it is not uncommon to see third or fourth generation families living in the region. Until the early 1990s Bay Ridge was a primarily Irish, Italian, and Norwegian neighborhood.
This area used to be highly Norwegian in particular. Its Nordic heritage is still apparent in the neighborhood. For instance, there's an annual Norwegian Constitution Day Parade, also known as the Syttende Mai Parade, featuring hundreds of people in folk dress who parade down Third Avenue. It ends in Leif Ericson Park, named for the Viking explorer, where "Miss Norway" is crowned near the statue of Leif Ericson. The statue was donated by Crown Prince Olav, Prince of Norway on behalf of the nation of Norway in 1939. There is also a Norwegian gifts-and-groceries store.
Today, Bay Ridge maintains a sizable Irish, Italian, and Greek population, but like other areas in South/Southwest Brooklyn, late in the 20th century it saw an influx of Russian, Polish, and Lebanese, and lesser numbers of Chinese. In recent decades many Middle Eastern and Arab Americans have moved to Bay Ridge. Bay Ridge has many international restaurants and bars, especially along 3rd and 5th Avenue, its main commercial strips. Many refer to the community as "Little Palestine" due to its large Palestinian population and "Brooklyn's Gold Coast."
Bay Ridge has a high elderly population. It has been called a NORC or a naturally occurring retirement community because many of its families have grown up in the neighborhood while their children move away. In 2006 it was reported that 20% of the population of Bay Ridge is 60 or over. Local newspapers include The Home Reporter-Sunset News and Bay News (a merger of The Bay Ridge Courier and Kings Courier). The neighborhood is often covered by The Brooklyn Daily Eagle and The Brooklyn Paper.
Landmarks and points of interest
- Step streets are streets that are composed entirely of steep steps. As a rule they were placed on hills that were too steep to build a road, yet in a rare concession to pedestrians, it was determined to allow them access to the streets denied to motor transportation", at 74th and 76th Streets, recalling the Montmartre section of Paris.
- Owl's Head Park (also known as Bliss Park), in the neighborhood's northwest corner, was previously the private estate of the Bliss Family, for whom nearby Bliss Terrace is named. They sold what remained of the estate to the city in 1928 for $850,000, after Eliphalet Williams Bliss specified in his will 25 years earlier that he wanted the city to buy the land and convert it into parkland. Before them, the property was owned by Henry C. Murphy, a former Mayor of Brooklyn, ambassdor, congressman and New York State Senator for whom the nearby Senator Street is named. Remnants of the estate—mansion, stable, observation tower—were still visible into the 1930s, when they were finally demolished, having been left to fall into disrepair. It is a 24-acre (97,000 m2) walking park that has a state of the art skate park, dog run, children's playground and basketball courts; it has the first concrete skatepark built in Brooklyn. Owl's Head Park.
- 69th Street Pier at 69th St. and Shore Road, is the community's key seaside recreation spot. Sports fishermen travel across the borough and from the other boroughs to fish the waters of "The Bay Ridge Anchorage" and along the seawall promenade that runs south from the pier to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and east along Gravesend Bay. Years prior to the construction of the bridge, commuter ferry service was operated between this Bay Ridge pier and the St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island. It features a sculpture that emits a beam of light as a memorial to those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
- Farrell House, which has been at 125 95th St. since the early twentieth century, is one of many old mansions in Bay Ridge, and it is now an official landmark. An accompanying structure, thought to have been used as a barn, was unable to be saved and was demolished. Legend has it the house was turned so that its "widow's walk," a balcony that traditionally faces the sea so women left at home could watch for their husbands' ships, would no longer face the Narrows.
- Fort Hamilton, an active military base near the Verrazano Bridge, houses one of the neighborhood's few cultural attractions, the Harbor Defense Museum.
- St. John's Episcopal Church, St. John's Episcopal Church where Robert E. Lee served as a vestryman and where his future "right hand", Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, was baptized.
- Other notable locations include St. Patrick's Church on 4th Avenue and Fort Hamilton Memorial Park at 4th Avenue and 101st Street. There are also a handful of houses dating back to the 19th century.
Fort Hamilton neighborhood
The southern half of the neighborhood, from 86th Street to 101st Street and from New York Bay to Seventh Avenue and the Fort Hamilton army base, is sometimes referred to as a separate neighborhood, Fort Hamilton, though some long-time residents dispute this distinction. Fort Hamilton was once a village that sprouted up around the military installation, a briefly lived vacation destination and sister-village to Yellow Hook, the original name of Bay Ridge, in the north. It is named for the United States Army installation of the same name, which bears the name of Alexander Hamilton. Fort Hamilton, like Bay Ridge, is patrolled by the NYPD's 68th Precinct.
Bay Ridge is patrolled by the New York City Police Department's 68th Precinct. It is served by Engine 241, Engine 242, and Ladder 109 of the New York City Fire Department. Bay Ridge is also served by a BRAVO Volunteer Ambulance.
Additionally, there are MTA express bus routes X27 and X37, which mainly serves for the commute to Manhattan, but also runs during off-peak hours on weekdays. The X27 also runs on weekends. The routes X28 and X38 also serve the eastern part of Bay Ridge. Many Bay Ridge commuters opt for the relative comfort and convenience of the express bus. Bay Ridge is readily accessible by car, encircled by the Belt Parkway and Gowanus Expressway. Local bus routes include B1, B4, B8, B9, B16, B37, B63, B64, B70, S53, S79 SBS, and S93.
Primary and secondary schools
New York City Department of Education operates area public schools. Educational institutions in Bay Ridge include; P.S. 102, P.S. 170, P.S. 127, P.S. 185 (Walter Kassenbrock Elementary School), P.S. 104 (called the Fort Hamilton School), Lutheran Elementary School, St. Anselm's Roman Catholic School, I.S. 30 (also known as Mary White Ovington), I.S.259 (also known as William McKinley Junior High School) Holy Angels Catholic Academy Bay Ridge Preparatory School, Fort Hamilton High School, High School of Telecommunications (originally all-girls Bay Ridge High School), Poly Prep Country Day School, Visitation Academy, Adelphi Academy, Fontbonne Hall Academy, St. Patrick Elementary School, D., G. Kaloidis Parochial School, and Xaverian High School. Fort Hamilton High School, between 83rd and 85th streets, was erected in the 1940s on the grounds of the Crescent Athletic Club, a country club. The High School of Telecommunications was formerly Bay Ridge High School, which was once an all-girls school.
Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) operates the Bay Ridge Library. The Bay Ridge Reading Club first organized the library in 1880. It opened on its present site in 1896 and became a BPL branch in 1901. The current two story facility opened in 1960. In 2004 it received a $2.1 million renovation, including new furniture and shelving, new lighting equipment, a new roof, and 27 additional public access computers.
A smaller public library is the Fort Hamilton Library, built with money gift from Andrew Carnegie in 1906. The current branch's predecessor was founded over 100 years ago. It became a part of the BPL system in 1901 and moved to its current location in 1905. Since then it has gone through numerous renovations. The most recent renovation was completed in March 2011, with a ribbon cutting ceremony held on April 11, 2011.
Bay Ridge is recognized as politically conservative. Mike Long, Chairman of the Conservative Party of New York, resides there. However, it has been known to elect Democrats to office as well, such as City Councilman Vincent J. Gentile. Bay Ridge is represented in the New York State Senate by Republican Marty Golden, and New York State Assembly by Republican Nicole Malliotakis and Democrat Alec Brook-Krasny. Republican Michael Grimm was elected to represent the community in Congress in 2010. The neighborhood is served by Brooklyn Community Board 10.
Development has been a passionate issue for Bay Ridge residents, as in recent years they saw many of the decades-old two-family houses being demolished, replaced by condominiums known colloquially as "Fedder Homes," after the branded air conditioners poking out from the buildings' facades. In 2005, local community leaders and community activists from across the political spectrum united to issue rezoning laws.
- Maria Bartiromo – Fox News anchor, grew up in Bay Ridge, where her family owned an Italian restaurant
- Ed Bishop – actor, best known for his portrayal of Commander Ed Straker in the TV series, UFO
- Richard Bright – actor
- Jason Calacanis – popular technology entrepreneur and founder of Silicon Alley Reporter
- Giovanni Capitello – filmmaker and actor, born in Bay Ridge
- Chuck Connors – actor of The Rifleman fame grew up on Senator Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues, and attended Adelphi Academy.
- C. C. DeVille (Bruce Anthony Johannesson) – guitarist of the 1980s glam band Poison grew up in Bay Ridge, attending P.S. 102, McKinley JHS, and Fort Hamilton H.S.
- John Eder – Green Party Leader and politician, grew up in Bay Ridge and attended P.S. 102
- Jimmy Fallon – American television host, comedian, actor, singer, musician, and producer
- Joel Gertner – professional wrestling TV personality, a graduate of Poly Prep, and current resident of Bay Ridge
- Robert Ginty – actor who played Lt. T.J. Wiley in TV series Baa Baa Black Sheep
- John Gray – creator and writer of the Ghost Whisperer TV series
- James Hayden – actor
- Stonewall Jackson – Confederate General, once stationed at Fort Hamilton
- Lordz of Brooklyn members Adam "ADM" McLeer and Michael "Mr. Kaves" McLeer – born in and still resides in Bay Ridge
- Robert E. Lee – Confederate General, once stationed at Fort Hamilton
- Giulia Melucci – author of I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti, grew up in Bay Ridge and attended Visitation Academy
- Daniel J. Murphy – US Navy Admiral, chief of staff to George H.W. Bush during his first term as vice president
- Pee Wee Reese – Brooklyn Dodger. Lived in a brick duplex at 9712 Barwell Terrace, off 97th Street.
- Jerry Rosenberg – owner of JGE Appliance Stores, and pitchman of various local businesses in the New York Tri-State area throughout the 1970s
- Lillian Russell – operetta singer and vaudeville actress
- Frank Seminara – former professional baseball player
- Brittney Savage – pro wrestler
- Hubert Selby – author of Last Exit To Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream
- Brandon Silvestry – professional wrestler better know by his ring name, Low Ki.
- Duke Snider – Brooklyn Dodger, rented 178 Marine Avenue during the baseball season
- Gilbert Sorrentino – novelist, poet, and editor
- Janet Yellen – chairperson of the Federal Reserve, attended Fort Hamilton High School and lived on Ridge Boulevard
- Henny Youngman - comedian
- Dimitri Venekas - known as the "69th Street Pier Stud", Dimitri is known for asking girls to the prom down at the pier. Living and loving Loyola (MD).
In popular culture
- The 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever was set there, as well as nearby Sunset Park and Bensonhurst.
- Steven Seagal has many scenes in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights in the 1991 action film Out for Justice which takes place in these neighborhoods, and is home to one of the movies actors, Sonny Hurst, who plays "Tattoo" in the infamous scene in the pool hall where he gets his teeth knocked out with an eight ball.
- The novel and 2002 film adaptation of 25th Hour is partially set in Bay Ridge.
- The runaway subway train in the 2004 film Spider-Man 2 was destined for the Bay Ridge – 95th Street subway station.
- Parts of the 2007 film Brooklyn Rules were set and filmed in Bay Ridge.
- Parts of the 2007 movie Then She Found Me with Bette Midler and Helen Hunt were shot on 76th Street.
- The Narrows, starring Kevin Zegers and Sophia Bush is set in Bay Ridge.
- The 2010 film White Irish Drinkers by John Gray was set in Bay Ridge.
- Mark Ruffalo's character in the 2011 film "Margaret" lives near the Bay Ridge – 95th Street subway station.
- The 2012 reality series Brooklyn 11223 is set in Bay Ridge.
- In the 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort's wife Naomi is frequently referred to as "The Duchess of Bay Ridge".
- In an episode[clarification needed] of Law & Order: SVU, Det. Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) states that he is from 89th Street and Shore Road.
- NYPD Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) on CBS-TV's Blue Bloods lives in Bay Ridge. His home on Harbor View Terrace, near Fort Hamilton High School, is seen in each episode.
- In the television program Ugly Betty, the character of Justin is shocked that Hilda and Bobby have found a place in Bay Ridge, and instead explains that Manhattan is much more realistic due to the recession.
- Peggy Olson, the Norwegian-American copywriter on AMC's Mad Men, is from Bay Ridge. In the second episode of Season One, she declared, "I'm from Bay Ridge. We have manners."
- Parts of the show Rescue Me are set in the neighborhood.
- NYC Dept. of City Planning, District 10.
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- Newman, Andy (August 16, 1999). "klyn Mourns Dodger Who Anchored a Borough". The New York Times. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
- Decades-old signs on 5th Avenue, Bay Ridge, Forgotten New York
- Stewart, Henry (October 10, 2014). "Fifty Years Later, Looking for Last Exit".
- Fernandez, Manny (February 28, 2011). "When Players Like Duke Snider Were Also Neighbors". The New York Times. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
- Stewart, Henry (August 11, 2014). "Gilbert Sorrentino, the Lost Laureate of Brooklyn".
- Yee, Vivian (October 9, 2013). "A Glimpse of Yellen's Career, Chronicled in Her High School Newspaper". New York Times.
- Rothstein, Mervyn. "Henny Youngman, King of the One-Liners, Is Dead at 91 After 6 Decades of Laughter". New York Times.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.|
- Original Bay Ridge web site
- Historical photos of Bay Ridge by Brooklyn PIX
- BrooklynRowHouse.com What's Bay Ridge?
- Bay Ridge Eagle
- Bay Ridge Courier
- Home Reporter and Sunset News