Bay Ridge

Ten spots you should see in Bay Ridge

Eye On Real Estate

August 31, 2016 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bay Ridge is a great place for an urban ramble. Start with the Shore Road Promenade, where you'll get an eyeful of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
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Sometimes we look for the ghost of John Travolta’s younger self on the streets of our neighborhood.

He was thin-faced and barely out of his teens when he swaggered through Bay Ridge in “Saturday Night Fever.”

That’s the only thing many New Yorkers know about Bay Ridge — it’s where Tony Manero, Travolta’s character, lived in the iconic 1977 film.

Foodies have perhaps been to the southwest Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood to eat at much-loved Middle Eastern restaurant Tanoreen. People who keep track of high-end real estate listings have perhaps seen photos of Bay Ridge’s Gingerbread House — a city-designated landmark that looks like a really big cottage in a fairy tale.

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Otherwise, if they don’t live or work in the neighborhood, almost everybody draws a blank when it comes to Bay Ridge,

If you’re part of this crowd, you’re missing out. It’s a fun place for an urban ramble. There’s architectural eye candy galore, our mighty bridge to Staten Island is photogenic and you can eat interesting food without maxing out your credit cards.

We’ve drawn up a list of 10 must-see spots for guidance when you visit — and another list with 10 great things to eat. See related story.

You can get to Bay Ridge on the R train — which was nicknamed “the Norwegian-American line” in the first half of the 20th Century when thousands of Norwegian immigrants and their descendants lived in the area. If the R train’s sometimes slow pace drives you batty, instead take the N train to the 59th Street station, which is just a few blocks away from the neighborhood’s northern boundary.

We started making occasional visits to Bay Ridge a couple years ago.

We were so charmed by what we saw that we decided to move to the neighborhood. After stints in South America, South Florida, the Central Park-proximate Upper West Side and suburban Westchester, we now call Bay Ridge home.

In case you’re wondering, the rent is half of what it would be in Park Slope. Our apartment has parquet floors and high ceilings and is in an ivy-covered Tudor building.

* Shore Road Promenade offers an up-close look at New York Harbor. The promenade’s pedestrian and cycling paths run along the water’s edge from Bay Ridge’s 69th Street Pier to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. (The promenade continues onwards beyond Bay Ridge to Bath Beach, which is a walk you should definitely take on a future occasion.)

From the American Veterans Memorial Pier, as it’s officially called, there’s an interesting view of the World Trade Center, Lower Manhattan and Jersey City.  

By the way, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the United States.

* Diamond Jim Brady’s house is at 9901 Shore Road, a street that runs parallel to the promenade.

It requires a bit of imagination to picture this prim Mediterranean/Mission-style building as the home of a railroad tycoon who wore diamond-studded sandals to the Coney Island boardwalk. Because the 1890s-vintage villa is now a Catholic school called Fontbonne Hall Academy.

But Brady lived in the house with Broadway actress Lillian Russell in the early years of the 20th Century.

* Shore Road used to be lined with other vacation villas besides Diamond Jim Brady’s but they’ve been torn down. Still, the houses that are there now are terrific. Some have lawns that are steep hillsides.

Shore Road Park, which has vast ball fields, and the Narrows Botanical Gardens are also located on Shore Road.  

* The Gingerbread House at 8220 Narrows Ave., a century-old city landmark, is one of the only Arts and Crafts-style houses in New York City. It is set on a lawn the size of a pocket park. It has been up for sale at various times in the past seven years, but as far as we can tell isn’t currently on the market.

* Steep outdoor staircases called step streets are located on 74th and 76th streets between Colonial Road and Ridge Boulevard. You can’t drive from one end of these blocks to the other, but you can climb the stairs.

The trek up the 76th Street steps is particularly rewarding because there’s architectural eye candy at the top. A neo-Georgian house, 131 76th St., was built around 1865; Gothic Revival-style 122 76th St. was built around 1900. East of Ridge Boulevard, there’s a wonderful blue house at 232 76th St.

* Ridge Boulevard is an appealing mix of distinctive rowhouses, suburban-style houses with sizable lawns and religious institutions such as Visitation Academy. This Catholic girls’ school at 8902 Ridge Blvd., whose architectural style is Italian neo-Renaissance, was built a century ago on the site of the Kings County Inebriate Asylum. (Now there’s an old-fashioned name for an alcohol rehab center.)

* One of Bay Ridge’s most charming 19th-Century houses can be found at 163 81st St. It’s partly covered with round-cut shingles and has a conical tower and a wrap-around porch.

* Century-old neo-Renaissance brownstones on Senator Street between Third and Fourth avenues are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

* There are lovely limestone rowhouses on Bay Ridge Parkway between Fourth and Fifth avenues that are also a century old. The block is known as Doctor’s Row because there are medical offices in them.

* The Bennet-Farrell-Feldmann House at 119 95th St. is an individual city landmark. Its architectural style is Greek Revival and it has a porch with Tuscan columns.  

It is the oldest house in Bay Ridge, having been constructed around 1847, and one of the most beautiful.

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