My Neighborhood, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

By
Managing Real Estate Broker with Brooklyn/Manhattan Real Estate

Bay Ridge is a neighborhood in the southwest corner of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, USA. It is bound by 65th Street on the north, Interstate 278 on the east, and the Belt Parkway-Shore Road on the west. The southern border is 101st Street. The portion below 86th Street is a subsection called Fort Hamilton. A small area east of I-278, bounded by 7th Avenue, is also part of Bay Ridge. 

 Life

NIght lights of Verrazano Bridge, and around 

Night lights of Verrazano Bridge, and around

Bay Ridge is a largely middle class neighborhood and is one of the few such places remaining in Brooklyn. With its strong family presence, it is not uncommon to see third or fourth generation families living in the region. Bay Ridge is a diverse neighborhood with a predominantly Catholic heritage, with strong Muslim and Eastern Orthodox minority populations.

About 20% of the current residents identify themselves as being of Italian descent, and another 20% identify themselves as being of Irish descent. There is also a large and active Greek American population. In addition, Bay Ridge is home to one of the oldest Arab-American populations in New York. Several generations ago, the neighborhood was well known for its Scandinavian residents, and the neighborhood still contains several Scandinavian bakeries and hosts an annual Norwegian Day Parade. Since 1990, Bay Ridge has become a popular location for immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Bay Ridge residents enjoy a great selection of fine eating, and the many quality dining establishments lining 3rd Avenue give it the local nickname of "Restaurant Row". Fifth Ave. also has its share of restaurants; both avenues provide a wide array of ethnic dining choices.

There is also a thriving bar scene, with residents frequenting the Irish pubs abounding along 3rd, 4th, and 5th Avenues, the main commercial strips of the neighborhood. The neighborhood is notorious for its disproportionate number of churches and bars; it is sometimes informally and endearingly referred to as "Bar Ridge". Right-wing, anti-immigrant residents also sometimes refer to the neighborhood as "Beirut" (as in "Bay Root") because of the high number of Muslim residents.

Educational institutions include P.S. 102, P.S. 185 (Walter Kassenbrock Elementary School), P.S. 104 (called the Fort Hamilton School), I.S. 30 (also known as Mary White Ovington), Fort Hamilton High School, High School of Telecommunications, Bay Ridge Preparatory School, Poly Prep Country Day School,Visitation Academy, Adelphi Academy, and Xaverian High School. Fort Hamilton High School was erected in the 1940's on the grounds of the former Crescent Athletic Club, a high class country club. The High School of Telecommunications was previously known as Bay Ridge High School, which was once an all-girls school; memorobilia from the school periodically shows up on eBay.

regular street in Bay Ridge

Average street in Bay Ridge

Most recently, Bay Ridge has become known for its 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. This is also a sign for things to come for many other neighborhoods in the United States. In 2006, it was reported that 20% of the population of Bay Ridge is 60 or over. [1]

Fort Hamilton, an active military base near the Verazzano Bridge, houses one of the neighborhood's few cultural attractions, The Harbor Defense Museum.[2] Another popular neighborhood attraction is the 69th Street Pier, at Bay Ridge Ave. and Shore Road. It features a sculpture that emits a beam of light as a memorial to those who lost their lives on September 11.

The neighborhood is served by a variety of local newspapers, the post popular of which is The Home Reporter-Sunset News. The same company publishes The Spectator as well. The Brooklyn Papers publishes a Bay Ridge edition (formerly known as The Bay Ridge Paper), and Courier-Life publishes The Bay Ridge Courier.

 

Politics

Bay Ridge is a politically polarized community. Traditionally, Bay Ridge leans Republican and is recognized as politically Conservative; Mike Long, liquor-store owner and Chairman of the Conservative Party of New York, resides there. However, it has been known to elect Democrats to office as well, such as Councilman Vincent J. Gentile. It also has a vibrant Green Party; the Green New York City mayoral candidate, Anthony Gronowicz, is a resident. The neighborhood is also home to the Brooklyn Democrats for Change, an active liberal organization.

Bay Ridge is represented in the New York State Senate by Marty Golden.

The neighborhood is served by Brooklyn Community Board 10.

Development is 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; the homes of Bay Ridge are safe, for now, from the contractor's raze.

 

History

Bay Ridge was originally known as Yellow Hook, for the yellowish soil the original Dutch settlers observed. This name was changed in the 1790's after yellow fever struck the area and residents realized what an ill fit it was given the circumstances.[3] The new name was given due to the proximity of the neighborhood to New York Bay, excellent views of which were visible from the ridge that has now become Ridge Boulevard. These views attracted wealthy people, who built extravagant summer homes along Shore Road overlooking the water, many of which are still standing today and worth well over one million dollars. Once the 4th Avenue Subway (now the R line) was extended in 1915, however, many Manhattan workers looking for quieter surroundings began to flow in, transforming the area into a middle-class neighborhood.

Construction of The Verrazano Bridge was completed in 1964. Though now a totemic structure beloved by many, it was bitterly opposed by residents upon the announcement of its construction, for it would require the demolition of many homes. In a rare loss for local activists, the challenges failed: the bridge was built and the homes destroyed. 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.[4]

The Farrell House, which has been at 125 95th St. since the early twentieth century, is one of many old mansions in Bay Ridge, and 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.[5]

The area of the neighborhood around Ovington Avenue (aka 70th Street) was once known as "Ovington Village"; it was ultimately swallowed up as Bay Ridge.

 

 Transportation

The Verrazano Bridge.

The Verrazano Bridge.

The area is serviced by the R train of the Fourth Avenue line of the New York City Subway, with stations at Bay Ridge Avenue, 77th Street, 86th Street and 95th Street.

Additionally, there are two MTA express buses which serve the Bay Ridge to Manhattan commute: the X27 serving lower Manhattan to 57th Street and the X37 serving 23rd Street to 57th Street. While over twice the cost of the subway, many Bay Ridge commuters opt for the relative comfort and convenience of the express buses.

Bay Ridge is readily accessible by car, encircled by the Belt Parkway and Gowanus Expressway.

 

 Misc. Facts & Trivia

  • Features two "step streets"--"streets that are composed entirely of steps, and steep ones at that. 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.[6]
  • Owl's Head Park (also known as Bliss Park), in the neighborhood's northwest corner, was previously the private estate of the Bliss Family, the namesake for nearby Bliss Terrace. Before them, the property was owned by Henry C. Murphy, a United States Senator for whom the nearby Senator Street is named. Remnants of their estate were still visible into the 1970's when they were finally demolished, having fallen into considerable disrepair.
  • CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo grew up in Bay Ridge, where her family owned an Italian restaurant.
  • Famous personalities out of Bay Ridge include Mike and Adam McLeer of the hip-hop/punk band "The Lordz" (previously the "Lordz of Brooklyn"), artist/musician Justin Lee Brannan of "Most Precious Blood" (formerly Indecision), as well as Television / Film actor and current The Sopranos regular Dan Grimaldi. Robert Ginty, actor with many movies and TV appearances; played Lt. T. J. Wiley in Baa Baa Black Sheep hit TV show, and now is a director.
  • Former New York City Mayor William O'Dwyer lived in a house on 79th Street in Bay Ridge before being elected mayor.
  • Former Olympic Basketball superstar Chris Mullen played basketball for Xaverian High School.
  • Actor Scott Baio is also from Bay Ridge and attended Xaverian High School; he still has family in the area.
  • The grounds of Xaverian High School include the remnants of a small cemetery, visible from the street at Narrows Ave. and Mackay Place, that dates back to the days of the Revolutionary War. Simon Cortelyou is interred there.
  • John Eder(Some fake Eder totally unrelated to the real Eder) an American politician and a member of the Green Party is from Bay Ridge.
  • Eileen Carlson was born and raised in Bay Ridge until she moved to the south west in Early 2006. Eileen Carlson could be frequently spotted in various eateries on 3rd avenue, 5th avenue as well as 86th street. Either falling off of a bus, a parked steam roller, or tripping down one step in high school- Eileen Carlson was always doing crazy things. Bay Ridge misses her greatly and occassionally sends her smoke signals in hopes that she will see them and return home.

Luke Constantino
Commercial
| Residential
RE
/MAX at THE SLOPE
Direct: (212) 300-3919 | Fax: (360) 368-0098
http://LukeConstantino.com

Posted by

Luke Constantino
Realtor
Commercial/Residential
Remax At The Slope
261 4th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11215
Office: (718) 532-2000
Direct: (212) 300-3919
lukeconstantino@gmail.com

 

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Rainer
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ella tiu
The Machree Group - Woodstock, NY

Very informative, I used to live in Bay Ridge for many years, recently visited the old neighborhood. It has changed a lot , but still a nice area.

Thanks for the blog

Ella

May 13, 2009 04:39 AM #1
Anonymous
Jemi Alade

Do you know anyone that what to lease one bedroom apartment with utilities included in bay ridge. Coming from Texas thanks. 

Oct 14, 2009 01:54 AM #2
Rainmaker
151,078
Luke Constantino
Brooklyn/Manhattan Real Estate - Brooklyn, NY
Residential/Commercial Real Estate Brooklyn NY

Call me Jemi,

(212) 300-3919

Oct 14, 2009 02:00 AM #3
Anonymous
vera

hell my first time commenting. i want to know if anyone remember bayridge H.S. Annex in the 1970s? i went there in i believe in 1970. i took the N train to the Fort Hamilton Pkway station. after we left there we went to the Main Building. are there photos of the Annex? i want to show my children. it was all girls back then.

Aug 20, 2010 12:30 PM #4
Anonymous
vera

oops i meant hello, not hell

Aug 20, 2010 12:42 PM #5
Anonymous
Anonymous
Aug 21, 2010 03:16 AM #6
Anonymous
vera

is this the main building on 4th and 65th? i remember this one, but im looking for the school where i got off at fort hamilton pkway on the N train. back then this was called the Annex. but o do appreciate all your help.

Aug 21, 2010 06:12 AM #7
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Rainmaker
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Luke Constantino

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