Quick facts for kids
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
Neighborhood of Brooklyn
Streetscape in Bay Ridge
|City||New York City|
|• Total||2.12 sq mi (5.49 km2)|
|• Land||2.12 sq mi (5.49 km2)|
|• Water||0 sq mi (0 km2)|
|• Density||37,440/sq mi (14,457/km2)|
|Area code(s)||347, 646, 718, 917, 929|
Bay Ridge is a neighborhood in the southwest corner of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It is bounded by Sunset Park on the north, Dyker Heights on the east, the Narrows and the Belt Parkway on the west, Fort Hamilton Army Base in the southeast corner, and the Verrazano Bridge on the south.
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.
In the 1850s, Historic Marker name to avoid association with yellow fever. "Bay Ridge" was suggested by local horticulturist James Weir after the area’s most prominent geographic features: the high ridge that offered views of New York Bay. The natural beauty attracted the wealthy, who built country homes along Shore Road, overlooking the water. By World War II, almost all of these large houses had been replaced with apartment buildings.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many Norwegian and Danish sailors emigrated to Brooklyn, including Bay Ridge and neighboring Sunset Park; Lapskaus Boulevard, referring to the salted Norwegian beef stew, 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 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 Senator Street Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. The Houses at 216-264 Ovington Ave. was listed in 2007.
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.
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Bay Ridge was 79,371, a decrease of 1,168 (1.5%) from the 80,539 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 1,571.96 acres (636.15 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 50.5 inhabitants per acre (32,300/sq mi; 12,500/km2).
The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 66.4% (52,740) White, 1.8% (1,457) African American, 0.1% (83) Native American, 13.3% (10,530) Asian, 0.0% (19) Pacific Islander, 0.3% (265) from other races, and 2.1% (1,682) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.9% (12,595) of the population.
Culture and demographic makeup
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. Its Nordic heritage is still apparent in 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 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.
As of 1971, the 30,000-strong Norwegian community of Bay Ridge boasted that it was the fourth-largest Norwegian city in the world. Residents also compared Eighth Avenue's string of Norwegian businesses to Oslo's Karl Johans gate.
Today, Bay Ridge's population is around 80,000 and maintains a sizable Irish, Italian, and Greek population. However, 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. It has even been referred to as "the heart of Brooklyn's Arab community." Bay Ridge has many international restaurants and bars, especially along 3rd and 5th Avenue, its main commercial strips.
Bay Ridge has a high elderly population. It has been called a naturally occurring retirement community (NORC) because many of its families have grown up in the neighborhood while their children moved away. In 2006, it was reported that 20% of the population of Bay Ridge is 60 years of age or over.
Local newspapers include The Home Reporter and Sunset News and The Bay Ridge Courier. The neighborhood is also often covered by The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. (These papers publish other local offshoots: The Home Reporter also publishes The Spectator; the Courier's parent company also publishes The Brooklyn Paper; and the Eagle publishes a weekly digest called Bay Ridge Life.)
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. The six-story apartment complexes lining Shore Road are among the tallest buildings in the neighborhood. In 2005, local community leaders and community activists from across the political spectrum united to issue rezoning laws.
Bay Ridge was chosen as an "Editor's Pick" in This Old House magazine April 2011 as a good neighborhood to buy an old house.
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. Commuter ferry service operated between this pier and the St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island from 1912 until 1964, the year the Verrazano Bridge opened. 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, couldn't 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 is 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 Army Base
Historic Fort Hamilton Army Base is located in the southwestern corner of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, with gates in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, and is one of several posts that are part of the region which is headquartered by the Military District of Washington. Its mission is to provide the New York metropolitan area with military installation support for the Army National Guard and the United States Army Reserve. The base is considered to be part of Bay Ridge. The children stationed at the base are zoned into Bay Ridge schools.
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.
The area is served by the R train on the BMT Fourth Avenue Line of the New York City Subway between Bay Ridge Avenue and 95th Street.
Additionally, there are MTA express bus routes X27, X37 which mainly serve for the commute to Manhattan, but also run during off-peak hours on weekdays. The X27 also runs on weekends. The routes X28, 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, S93.
The freight-only Bay Ridge Branch connects car floats to the Long Island Rail Road.
Bay Ridge is expected to be served by the Citywide Ferry Service starting in 2017.
In popular culture
- David Benioff's debut novel The 25th Hour (2001) and its 2002 film adaptation are partially set in Bay Ridge
- The Fort Hamilton army base is the setting for most of Nelson DeMille's novel Word of Honor (1985)
- Tom McDonough's novel Virgin with Child is set in Bay Ridge
- Several short stories by Hubert Selby, Jr. are set in the neighborhood, including "Liebesnacht" and "Double Feature." Some of his novels are also set in the neighborhood or nearby, like Last Exit to Brooklyn and The Demon.
- Several novels by Gilbert Sorrentino are set in the neighborhood, including Steelwork, Red the Fiend, Crystal Vision, A Strange Commonplace, Little Casino, and The Abyss of Human Illusion.
- Parts of the film Brooklyn Rules (2007) were set and filmed in Bay Ridge.
- Mark Ruffalo's character in the film "Margaret" (2011) lives near the Bay Ridge – 95th Street subway station
- In the action film Out for Justice (1991), Steven Seagal has many scenes set in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, which is home to one of the movie's actors, Sonny Hurst, who plays "Tattoo" in the infamous scene in the pool hall where he gets his teeth knocked out with an eightball
- The movie Saturday Night Fever (1977) was set there, as well as nearby Sunset Park and Bensonhurst
- The runaway subway train in the film Spider-Man 2 (2004) was destined for the Bay Ridge – 95th Street subway station
- The Narrows (2008), starring Kevin Zegers and Sophia Bush is set in Bay Ridge
- In the film The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Jordan Belfort's wife Naomi is frequently referred to as "The Duchess of Bay Ridge"
- Parts of the movie Then She Found Me (2007) with Bette Midler and Helen Hunt were shot on 76th Street
- The film White Irish Drinkers (2010), directed by John Gray, is set in Bay Ridge
- NYPD Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) on CBS-TV's Blue Bloods lives in Bay Ridge; his home at 8070 Harbor View Terrace, near Fort Hamilton High School, is seen in each episode
- The 2012 reality series Brooklyn 11223 is set in Bay Ridge
- In an episode of Law & Order: SVU, Det. Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) states that he is from 89th Street and Shore Road
- 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
- 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
- Rygg, Andreas Nilsen. Norwegians in New York, 1825–1925 (Brooklyn, New York: Norwegian News Co. 1941)
Images for kids
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