Bay Ridge is a neighborhood in the southwest corner of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, USA. 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 86th Street and Fort Hamilton on the south. While Fort Hamilton is officially a separate neighborhood, it is often considered part of Bay Ridge. Bay Ridge and Fort Hamilton both share the zip code of 11209. Bay Ridge is patrolled by the NYPD's 68th 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 1990's Bay Ridge was a primarily Irish, Italian, and Norwegian 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 Arabs, and lesser numbers of Chinese. In recent decades, many Syrian/Lebanese 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. Local newspapers include The Home Reporter-Sunset News, The Spectator, The Bay Ridge Paper, The Bay Ridge Courier and The Bay Ridge Eagle.
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.http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20469145_20917125,00.html
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. 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, children's playground and basketball courts. Most of all, the best view of the Narrows off the West Hill.
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, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny. Bay Ridge is represented in the New York State Senate by Marty Golden,and New York State Assembly by Nicole Malliotakis, both Republicans. 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. This name was changed in 1853 after yellow fever struck the area and residents realized what an ill fit it was, given the circumstances. 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. 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 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 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.
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 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.