Bay Ridge is an old-world neighborhood neatly tucked into the southwest corner of Brooklyn within the shadows of the Verrazano Bridge. The neighborhood is encircled by the Belt Parkway along the shore line and the Gowanus Expressway inland.
Bay Ridge, long known for its generational pull, has historically been home to a diverse number of ethnic groups. While the area is flush with people of Irish, Italian and Greek descent, these ethnic communities have been joined by larger numbers of new groups, including people with Russian, Polish, Asian and Middle Eastern backgrounds. The Arab American community today in Bay Ridge represents the largest concentration of Arab Americans in New York City.
For many years, Bay Ridge and its waterside location, would attract the affluent. But most of the mansions that once lined Shore Road are long gone and have been replaced by six-story apartment buildings.
Aside from the low-rise apartment buildings, the neighborhood pretty much consists of one and two-family homes. Lush front yards and trimmed hedges are pretty common here.
Current zoning and limitations on building heights restrict any out of the norm development. At present, the future beholds small development on some of the commercial strips and teardowns of older homes for smaller residential projects.
If you love the outdoors, Bay Ridge is a great place to reside. The park space is aplenty whether you wish to bike, walk, skate or play ball. Skate or watch the youth of Bay Ridge do some amazing and somewhat insane tricks at the Millennium Skate Park at Owls Head, the first concrete skate park in Brooklyn.
Step out onto the water with a stroll along the 69th Street Pier (aka the American Veterans Memorial Pier). The views of lower Manhattan, the neighboring Verrazano Bridge and the Statue of Liberty are magnificent.
The outside heated beer garden at Lockyard on 5th Avenue (it adjoins the 242 Engine Fire House) is a great place to meet friends, take back a beer and enjoy one of the many burger and hot dog options.
The Little Cupcake Bakeshop takes baking to another level as they use “only the finest, sustainable ingredients” while “predominantly sourcing” from local farms. All baking is done daily in small batches. If you have a sweet tooth, this Bay Ridge staple is an absolute must.
Brooklyn Market is a wonderful food mart beautifully designed and stocked. It’s a neighborhood place that once you visit you may never go anywhere else.
The Shore Promenade stretches the entire length of Bay Ridge along the Upper Bay shoreline. There is no better place to spend a few hours to exercise, whether you walk or run, than this extended esplanade, particularly when heading west toward the Verrazano.
Dyker Beach Public Golf Course and Junior Golf Center. While the Dyker Beach course is not within the defined boundaries of Bay Ridge, it’s definitely worth mentioning here. Not everyone plays golf but if we all had a public course in our backyard, many more of us would probably play. One can play 18 or 9 holes at the public course at very reasonable rates. But the Junior Golf Center is probably one of the best values in all the city. The center is open to kids 6-17 years of age and offers free lessons as well as a free golf academy. The course itself offers six par-three holes.
What You Might See
The Verrazano Bridge is always looming in the background.
Lots of houses, both single-family and multi-family homes. One might wonder if they are actually within the borders of New York City.
Sky and water. Yes, the sky is aplenty in Bay Ridge as this section of Brooklyn has forsaken all high rise development. Most of the development has topped out at six stories and the neighborhood remains more in touch with its roots and its suburban flavor than other Brooklyn neighborhoods. Water. Just look west and the Upper Bay is front and center.
Bars and a wide variety of restaurants along the popular commercial strips, 3rd, 4th and 5th Avenues. If you cannot find something new and enticing to eat here, please stay at home and cook for yourself.
What You Don’t Know
The movie Saturday Night Fever starring a young John Travolta, took place in Bay Ridge. As the opening credits role, Travolta is seen grabbing a pizza slice from the outside window of Lenny’s Pizza.
Bay Ridge was originally the village of “Yellow Hook,” but changed its name in the 1850s to avoid any name associated with the disease Yellow Fever.