Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
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Bay Ridge is a neighborhood in the southwest corner of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, US It is bounded by Sunset Park on the north, Seventh Avenue and Dyker Heights on the east, The Narrows Strait, which partially houses the Belt Parkway, on the west and the Verrazano bridge on the south. While Fort Hamilton is often considered a separate neighborhood, it is part of Bay Ridge. Fort Hamilton and most of Bay Ridge share the ZIP code of 11209; the remainder is in 11220 (actually the Bay Ridge post office is in 11220).1 Bay Ridge is patrolled by the NYPD's 68th2 Precinct. It is served by Engine 241, Engine 242, and Ladder 109 of the New York City Fire Department.
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 Norwegian3 neighborhood. 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 "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.4 Local newspapers include The Home Reporter-Sunset News, The Spectator, The Bay Ridge Paper, The Bay Ridge Courier and The Bay Ridge Eagle.
Fort Hamilton, an active military base near the Verrazano Bridge, houses one of the neighborhood's few cultural attractions, The Harbor Defense Museum.6 Another popular neighborhood attraction is the 69th Street Pier, at Bay Ridge Ave (aka 69th Street) and Shore Road. It features a sculpture that emits a beam of light as a memorial to those who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks of September 11. This popular pier is a favorite to the local fishermen who fish there daily. Until the middle 20th century a ferry to Staten Island operated from this pier for a nickel fare. Very close to the pier is Owl's Head Park. This park was once the home of Senator Murphy of the City of Brooklyn and it was also the Bliss Estate. It is a 27-acre (110,000 m2) walking park that has a state of the art skate park, dog run, children's playground and basketball courts.
Historically, Bay Ridge leans Republican and 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 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.
Bay Ridge was originally known as Yellow Hook for the hue of the yellowish soil observed by the original Dutch settlers.7 This name was changed in 1853 after yellow fever struck the area and residents realized what an ill fit it was, given the circumstances.89 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 multiple-millions of dollars.10 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.
During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many Norwegian and Danish sailors emigrated to Brooklyn, many specifically to Bay Ridge. Lapskaus Boulevard was the nickname of 8th Avenue, located in an historically Norwegian working-class neighborhood of Bay Ridge. Nordic heritage is still apparent in some sections of the neighborhood. For instance, there is an annual Norwegian Constitution Day Parade, also known as the Syttende Mai Parade, featuring hundreds of people in folk dress who parade along Third Avenue. The parade ends in Leif Ericson Park 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 1939.1112
Construction of The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Bay Ridge to Staten Island, 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. 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. 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.13
The 2007 Brooklyn tornado hit this area, specifically 68th and 69th streets between 3rd and 4th avenues.14 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.15 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.16
Additionally, there is MTA express bus route x27 and X37, which mainly serves for the commute to Manhattan, but also runs during off-peak hours on weekdays. 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.
- 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.18
- 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 1970s, when they were finally demolished, having fallen into considerable disrepair. The park has a dog run and the first concrete skatepark built in Brooklyn.19
- 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.
- 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.20
- The film "White Irish Drinkers" by John Gray was set in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
- The 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever was set there, as well as nearby Bensonhurst and Sunset Park.
- 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."
- Steven Seagal has many scenes in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights in the 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 film adaptation of 25th Hour is partially set in Bay Ridge.
- The runaway subway train in Spider-Man 2 was destined for Bay Ridge; although the "R", the only Bay Ridge-bound train, does not go above ground.
- Parts of the show Rescue Me are set in the neighborhood.
- Parts of the 2007 film Brooklyn Rules were set and filmed in Bay Ridge.
- During September 2007, Owls Head Park and nearby Shore Road, were location shoots for the movie, What Happens in Vegas..., starring Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher.
- The Narrows, starring Kevin Zegers and Sophia Bush is set in Bay Ridge.
- In an episode of Law & Order: SVU, Det. Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) references he is from 89th and Shore.
- NYPD Commissioner Reagan (Tom Selleck) on CBS-TV's Blue Bloods lives in Bay Ridge. His home near Fort Hamilton High School is seen in each episode.
- Parts of Cop Out were shoot in Bay Ridge. The bar room scene was set in The Salty Dog on 3rd Avenue
- In the television program Ugly Betty, the character of Justin is shocked that Hilda and Bobby have found a place in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and instead explains that Manhattan is much more realistic due to the recession.
- Parts of Then She Found Me with Bette Middler and Helen Hunt were shot in Bay Ridge (76th Street)
- Oxygen network's reality series, Brooklyn 11223, is set in Bay Ridge
New York City Department of Education operates area public schools. Educational institutions in Bay Ridge include; P.S. 102, P.S. 170, P.S. 185 (Walter Kassenbrock Elementary School), P.S. 104 (called the Fort Hamilton 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 was erected in the 1940s on the grounds of the former Crescent Athletic Club, an upper crust country club. The High School of Telecommunications was previously known as 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.21 A smaller renovated public library is the Fort Hamilton Library, built with money gift from Andrew Carnegie in 1906.
Famous persons from Bay Ridge include:
- James Hayden (1953–1983)
- George McGrath, writer, producer, actor. Emmy nominee for work on Pee-wee's Playhouse and Tracey Takes On.... Creator, writer, and star of On the Television. Born and raised on Ovington Avenue.
- Maria Bartiromo, CNBC anchor, grew up in Bay Ridge, where her family owned an Italian restaurant.22
- 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.
- Jason Calacanis, popular technology entrepreneur and founder of Silicon Alley Reporter is from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
- Janet Yellen, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, attended Fort Hamilton High School.
- Ed Bishop, actor, best known for his portrayal of Cmdr. Straker in the TV series, UFO.
- Richard Bright, actor
- Giovanni Capitello filmmaker/actor, born Bay Ridge.
- John Gray, creator and writer of Ghost Whisperer TV series.
- Robert Ginty, actor who played Lt. T.J. Wiley in TV series Baa Baa Black Sheep.
- Chuck Connors, actor of The Rifleman fame grew up on Senator Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues and also 54th Street and 6th Avenue in Sunset Park. He also attended Adelphi Academy.23
- John Eder, Green Party Leader and politician grew up in Bay Ridge and attended P.S. 102
- Hubert Selby, author of Last Exit To Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream
- Jerry Rosenberg, owner of JGE Appliance Stores, and pitchman of various local businesses in the New York Tri-State area throughout the 1970s.24
- Jason Mattera, author and WABC Radio host grew up in Bay Ridge.
- Michael "Mr. Kaves" McLeer, artist, rapper (Lordz of Brooklyn), tattooist and star of the original docu-series The Brooklyn Way, was born and still resides in Bay Ridge and is the main proprietor of Brooklyn Made Tattoo on 93rd Street
- Adam "ADM" McLeer, DJ, producer, rapper (Lordz of Brooklyn) and star of the original docu-series The Brooklyn Way, was born in and still resides in Bay Ridge
- Giulia Melucci, author of, I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti, grew up in Bay Ridge and attended Visitation Academy.
- Joel Gertner, professional wrestling TV personality, is a graduate of Poly Prep in Dyker Heights, and currently resides in Bay Ridge.
- Frank Seminara, former professional baseball player
- Brittney Savage. pro wrestler
- NYC Dept. of City Planning, District 10.
- NYPD 68th Precinct, NYPD.
- Mooney, Jake (January 1, 2006). "Counting Graying Heads". The New York Times. p. 6. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
- Harbor Defense Museum of Fort Hamilton
- Forgotten New York
- Owl's Head Park - Historical Sign
- Donovan, Aaron (June 10, 2001). "If You're Thinking of Living In Red Hook; Isolated Brooklyn Area Starts to Awaken". The New York Times. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
- Fowler, Brenda (July 26, 1987). "If You're Thinking of Living In Bay Ridge". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 24 August 2010. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
- Leif Ericson Park & Square (New York City Department of Parks & Recreation)
- 17th of May Parade (Norwegian-American 17th May Committee of Greater New York)
- The definitive history of the building of the bridge is Gay Talese's The Bridge
- Photos and a story of the aftermath of the Bay Ridge tornado
- Bay Ridge Tornado: Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church
- Newman, Andy (August 9, 2007). "That Wind That Left Part of Brooklyn Upside Down? It Was a Tornado, All Right". The New York Times. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- Step Streets, accessed February 26, 2007
- Project of the Month September 2001; Millennium Skate Park Owl's Head Park
- An extensive history of the Farrell House
- "Bay Ridge." Brooklyn Public Library. Retrieved on September 23, 2009.
- Thomas, Landon Jr. (February 12, 2007). "Questions Grow About a Top CNBC Anchor". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 17 October 2007. Retrieved October 13, 2007.
- Lambert, Bruce (November 11, 1992). "Chuck Connors, Actor, 71, Dies; Starred as Television's 'Rifleman'". The New York Times. Retrieved October 9, 2007.
- Decades-old signs on 5th Avenue, Bay Ridge (Forgotten New York)
- Rygg, Andreas Nilsen. Norwegians in New York, 1825—1925 (Brooklyn, New York: Norwegian News Co. 1941)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Bay Ridge, Brooklyn|
- Original Bay Ridge web site
- BayRidgeTalk - Community Forum
- 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