Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
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Bay Ridge (including Dyker Heights, a sub-neighborhood to the southeast) is a neighborhood in the southwest corner of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, USA. It is bounded by 60th Street on the north, 14th Avenue on the east and the Belt Parkway and Shore Road on the south and west. Below 86th Street is a subsection called Fort Hamilton. Bay Ridge is served by the NYPD's 68th  Precinct and by by Engine 241, Engine 242, and Ladder 109 of the New York City Fire Department.
Bay Ridge is a largely middle-class neighborhood. With a strong family presence, it is not uncommon to see third- or fourth-generation families living in the region. Bay Ridge has a sizable Irish, Italian, Greek and Scandinavian population, but like other areas in Southern/Southwest Brooklyn, it saw an influx late in the 20th century of Polish and Russian immigrants and lesser numbers of Chinese. In recent decades, a variety of Middle Eastern immigrants have moved to Bay Ridge. Most of the Middle Eastern population is Christian, but there is also a small Muslim and Jewish minority. Bay Ridge also has many international restaurants and bars, especially along 3rd and 5th Avenue, two of its main commercial strips. Many people refer to the community as "Brooklyn's Gold Coast."
Bay Ridge also has a large 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 the age of 20% of the population of Bay Ridge is 60 or over. 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. 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, once the home of Senator Murphy of the City of Brooklyn and once Bliss Estate. It is a 27-acre walking park that has a state-of-the-art skate park, children's playground and basketball courts and most of all the best view of the Narrows, off West Hill.
As of the 2000 U.S. Census, there were 69,840 people living in Bay Ridge. The demographics were 78.2% White, 11.0% Hispanic or Latino, 10.1% Asian, 1.6% African American and 0.2% Native American. Of those, the top 5 ancestries were 16.6% Irish, 16.5% Italian, 10.8% Arab, 5.4% Chinese, and 5.4% Greek.
Bay Ridge is a politically polarized community. Traditionally, 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 Councilman Vincent J. Gentile, Congressman Michael E. McMahon, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny and Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer. 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, a Republican. 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 their 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. The name was changed in 1853 after yellow fever struck the area and residents realized what an ill fit it was. The new name was given due to the proximity of the neighborhood to New York Bay, excellent views of which were visible from the terminal moraine 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 standing today and worth many millions of dollars. After 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 19th and early 20th 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 Fifth 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.
Construction of the Verrazano Bridge, which connects Bay Ridge to Staten Island, was completed in 1965. Though now a totemic structure beloved by many, it was bitterly opposed by residents upon the announcement of its construction, for the approaches 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 by 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.
The 2007 Brooklyn tornado hit this area, specifically 68th and 69th streets between 3rd and 4th 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 off 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.
Additionally, for a premium fare is the relative comfort and convenience of two MTA express buses that serve the Manhattan commute: the X27, with dropoffs from lower Manhattan to 57th Street, and the X37, with dropoffs from 23rd Street to 57th Street. Bay Ridge is readily accessible by car, encircled by the Belt Parkway (NY27A) and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway/Gowanus Expressway (I-278).
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 the private estate of the Bliss Family, the namesake for the nearby street Bliss Terrace. Before them, the property was owned by Henry C. Murphy, a United States senator for whom 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.
- 69th Street Pier at 69th Street just off 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,' an 1847 Greek Revival house at 119 95th Street that was moved 100 feet east in 1917 from the adjacent corner lot at Shore Road, 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 that 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.
References in popular culture
- The 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever was set here, as well as in nearby Bensonhurst and Sunset Park, the new name for the northern part of Bay Ridge since about 1965.
- Steven Seagal has many scenes in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights in the action film Out for Justice which takes place in these neighborhoods, which 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.
- Peggy Olson, the 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 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 (2009 film)", starring Kevin Zegers and Sophia Bush, is set in Bay Ridge.
- In an episode of Law and Order SVU, Det. Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) mentions that he is from 89th Street and Shore Road.
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. 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, Poly Prep Country Day School, Visitation Academy, Adelphi Academy, Fontbonne Hall Academy, St. Patrick Elementary School, D. and G. Kaloidis Parochial School and Xaverian High School. Fort Hamilton High School was erected on Shore Road in the 1940s on the grounds of the former Crescent Athletic Club, an upper-crust country club. The High School of Telecommunications on 67th Street near 4th Avenue was previously the all-girls Bay Ridge High School.
The Bay Ridge branch of the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is at Ridge Boulevard and 73rd Street. The Bay Ridge Reading Club organized the library in 1880. It opened on its present site in 1896 and became a BPL branch in 1901. The current 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.
Notable natives and residents
Famous personalities from Bay Ridge include:
- Maria Bartiromo, CNBC anchor, grew up in Bay Ridge, where her family owned an Italian restaurant.
- Ed Bishop, actor, best known for his portrayal of Commander Straker in the TV series, UFO.
- Justin Brannan, musician and fundraiser
- Richard Bright, actor
- Jason Calacanis, popular technology entrepreneur and founder of Silicon Alley Reporter is from Bay Ridge.
- Chuck Connors, actor of The Rifleman fame, grew up on Senator Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues and on 54th Street and 6th Avenue in Sunset Park, the name of the northern part of Bay Ridge since about 1965. He attended Adelphi Academy.
- C. C. DeVille, Guitarist of the 1980s glam band Poison grew up in Bay Ridge, attending P.S. 102, McKinley JHS, and Fort Hamilton H.S.
- Ronni Raygun Thomas - cult filmmaker and artist
- Hubert Selby - author of Last Exit To Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream
- John Eder, Green Party leader and politician, grew up in Bay Ridge and attended P.S. 102
- Janet Yellen, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, attended Fort Hamilton High School.
- ↑ NYPD 68th Precinct, NYPD.
- ↑ "Counting Graying Heads." The New York Times. January 1, 2006 p6(Local)
- ↑ Harbor Defense Museum of Fort Hamilton
- ↑ Forgotten New York
- ↑ Owl's Head Park - Historical Sign
- ↑ If You're Thinking of Living In/Red Hook; Isolated Brooklyn Area Starts to Awaken, The New York Times, June 10, 2001
- ↑ 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
- ↑ That Wind That Left Part of Brooklyn Upside Down?
- ↑ Step Streets, accessed February 26, 2007
- ↑ An extensive history of the Farrell House
- ↑ "Bay Ridge." Brooklyn Public Library. Retrieved on September 23, 2009.
- ↑ Thomas Jr., Thomas. "Questions Grow About a Top CNBC Anchor", The New York Times, February 12, 2007. Accessed October 13, 2007
- ↑ " Chuck Connors, Actor, 71, Dies; Starred as Television's 'Rifleman'" "Despite his western image, Connors was born in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn." The New York Times, November 11, 1992. Accessed October 9, 2007.
- Rygg, Andrew Nilsen Norwegians in New York, 1825— 1925 (Brooklyn, New York: Norwegian News Co. 1941)
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