Happy 168th birthday to Bay Ridge!

December 13, 2021 Theodore W. General
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Give a toast to that little old town beside the Narrows to mark the 168th anniversary of when its name was changed from Yellow Hook to Bay Ridge.

It happened on Dec. 16, 1853, while the old village was under the aegis of the Town of New Utrecht. It was part of Kings County but not Brooklyn until 1894.

According to historical accounts, it was on a mild Friday evening when a group of prominent area landowners met at the School District No. 2 Yellow Hook school house on Third Avenue near present-day 73rd Street. As a result of the 1848-49 yellow fever epidemic in other areas, villagers were especially concerned about the continual stigma of having a name like Yellow Hook. 

The Bay Ridge sesquicentennial mural.
Eagle Urban Media photos by Ted General

James Weir, a local florist, proposed the name “Bay Ridge,” taking into consideration the geographic features of the surrounding land, specifically the bay along the Narrows and the high ridge just up from the shore that was formed by a glacial moraine. The new name was unanimously accepted and adopted by resolution.

When Bay Ridge celebrated its sesquicentennial (that’s 150 years, folks), there was a grand celebration. Church bells rang throughout the community. Near the shoreline, the Fort Hamilton post fired a salute. The  NYPD did a helicopter flyover, an FDNY fireboat rendered a high-powered water-spray salute, and the Xaverian High School Band played an outdoor concert.

Later in the evening, with rotating searchlights flooding the entrance to Fort Hamilton High School, the Sesquicentennial Committee held a party in the school’sauditorium, where the drama students performed a short skit about how Bay Ridge was named.

In addition, the school’s concert band played musical selections from “Saturday Night Fever.” The national anthem and “America the Beautiful” were sung by America’s famous tenor Daniel Rodriguez, a former cop from Bay Ridge’s 68th Precinct, and, as a grand finale, a large birthday cake was rolled out on the stage.

During the anniversary year, a large bronze plaque was attached to the Bay Ridge library and a large mural was painted by Fort Hamilton students on the side of the Foodtown Supermarket on 91st Street off Third Avenue.

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Our hearty congratulations to the new head of the Brooklyn Catholic Diocese, Bishop Robert Brennan, who was recently installed as the eighth bishop of the diocese.

Bishop Robert Brennan
Photo courtesy of Twitter

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