Neighborhood Profile

Neighborhood Profile | Houses of Worship | Sources

Historical Information

Bay Ridge’s history extends back to 1652, when the Dutch West India Company acquired the land from Nyack Indians. The Dutch settlers first referred to Bay Ridge as Yellow Hook for the color of the soil found there. Nearly 200 years later in 1853, the name was changed to Bay Ridge because of the yellow-fever epidemic (1848-1849); residents feared that this association with the word “yellow” would present a negative outlook on the neighborhood.

Bay Ridge is known for its strong military presence in the U.S., particularly with Fort Hamilton (formerly known as Fort Lewis). Fort Hamilton played a vital role in many wars including the War of 1812, Battle of Brooklyn, Civil War, World War I, and World War II. It served as the last line of defense and port of entry for entrance into the Hudson River.


In the late 1800s, many industrialists and wealthy businessmen moved to Bay Ridge to build retreats and mansions. The neighborhood seemed to break off from the rest of New York City as a quiet suburban area of residence. Around 1915, when subway lines were extended, many Irish and Italian moved into the neighborhood. In 1964, the          Verrazano Narrows Bridge was built despite strong opposition from Bay Ridge residents; Robert Moses, chairman of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, managed to push the project through. While Bay Ridge remains quite suburban, the Verrazano bridge truly transformed the neighborhood by bringing in many different groups of people from other parts of the city. Bay Ridge is known to be a traditional Irish/Italian neighborhood, but there has been a recent influx of Chinese, Russian, Greek, Lebanese, Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian immigrants.

The Bay Ridge community’s unsuccessful opposition to the Verrazano Bridge construction is said to have sparked community activism throughout the neighborhood. In the late 20th century, residents were able to preserve the 16-acre Leif Ericson Park and the 27-acre Owl’s Head Park. The 58-acre Shore Road Park still remains, connecting Owl’s Head Park at the north of Bay Ridge to the southern tip of Fort Hamilton. Bay Ridge remains one of the only small-town residential looking neighborhoods within N.Y.C.


Fort Hamilton is the “second oldest continuously garrisoned federal post in the United States” and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places (Jackson, p.6). The fort rests in the southern tip of Bay Ridge near the Verrazano Bridge and represents the rich history of Bay Ridge.

Fort Hamiltion is named after Alexander Hamilton, who fought during the American Revolution in the Battle of Brooklyn. Fort Hamilton, also the first granite fort in the New York harbor, was built between 1825 and 1831. During the Civil War, the fort served as a training facility for volunteer soldiers. Brooklynites were able to see ships across the harbor and fortifications on Staten Island defending the harbor from Confederate raiders at that time. In 1863, the fort provided troops to help put down the Draft Riots of July 1863; New Yorkers resented forced conscription into the army and saw black workers as a threat to their jobs. Residents started burning buildings, tearing up railroad tracks, and attacking blacks.

Fort Hamilton remained active through the beginning of the 20th century. Long-ranged guns, and antiship and antiaircraft defenses were installed until Nike missiles started protecting New York City. This is when the armaments at Fort Hamilton were completely removed in 1954. However, during both world wars, the fort was still used as a “major embarkation and separation center” (Jackson, p. 8). In the mid-1990’s, it was used as a recruiting command post and processing station for New York City. The 26th Army Band and the Veteran’s Administration Hosiptal are now located at the fort (Jackson, p. 8). Today’s base is currently land-marked. If you visit, you will discover a small museum containing a vast collection of maps and military equipment located within the fort.

Construction of the Verrazano Bridge

Bay Ridge 1962

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Bay Ridge Now


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In the late 19th century, many rich industrialists and businessmen built their mansions along Shore Road in Bay Ridge. If you go to the Fort Hamilton area, you will still find beautiful mansions lining the suburban streets. You’ll also find brownstones and local Italian and Irish stores and restaurants. As you move up north, you’ll start seeing more buildings and townhouses that look like urban parts of Brooklyn. You’ll also find many Arab and Asian local stores, especially near Ovington Avenue and above.


Bay Ridge: Narrows on the west, Gowanus Expressway to 7th Avenue on the east. 65th Street on the north, Verrazano Narrows Bridge on the south.

Fort Hamilton: the southern area of Bay Ridge, boundary at 86th Street

Subway – Line

4th Avenue R train: Stops -> Bay Ridge Ave. , 77th St. , 86th St. , 95th St./Fort Hamilton


B1, B9, B4, B16, B64, B8, B63, Bs53, B37, Bx27


Brooklyn Public Library Bay Ridge Branch (Ridge Blvd. at 73rd St.), Fort Hamilton Branch (4th Avenue at 95th St.)

Community Board: No. 10

Police Precinct: 68th Precinct (333 65th St.)

Fire Department: Engine 241 Ladder 109 (6630 3rd Avenue), Engine 242 (9219 5th Avenue)

Hospitals and Clinics: Veterans Administration Hospital, Victory Memorial Hospital

Sources: Kenneth T. Jackson. The Neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Yale University Press, 2004


Demographics of Brooklyn (1890-1930 Census)

Racial Demographics of Bay Ridge (2000 Census)                                                 2006-2008 Census Estimates



General Demographics of Bay Ridge (2000 Census)                             ___________General Demographics


Places of Interest

The Verrazano Narrows Bridge


|The Verrazano Narrows Bridge

Built in 1964, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge is the symbol and most attractive place for tourists to visit in Bay Ridge. Its massive towers measure to 693 feet high and can be seen from nearly everywhere in Bay Ridge. Its view from the bay is beautiful and at 4,260 feet it almost seems never ending. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge played a key role in Bay Ridge’s development; it transformed the former suburban neighborhood into the industrialized community it is today. It’s also the only bridge to connect the borough of Staten Island to the rest of New York City. This eventually benefited both Staten Island and Bay Ridge financially and socially (as they both saw a great increase in population). If your in Bay Ridge, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge is the one place you have to see.




Owl's Head Park

|Owl’s Head Park

If you have an appreciation for the outdoors, then Owl’s Head Park is the place for you. Bounded by 68th street and Shore Rd, it’s 27.1 acres of land is almost covered completely by wildlife. There are many theories about how Owl’s Head Park got it’s name; some say the plot of land once took the shape of an owl’s head, others say owls lived there at one time. Either way, Owl’s Head Park has had a long and rich history extending back to when Canarsie Indians lived on the land. Owl’s Head Park has become one of the premier parks in Brooklyn. Families come here for picnics in the summer, and kids come to sled down the massive hill during the winter. Owl’s Head is also has one of the few skate parks in New York City; you’ll always see that park filled no matter the day. There’s always something to do here at Owl’s Head Park, so stopping by while your in Bay Ridge is a must.




The Parrott Cannon

|John Paul Jones Park

If your a person that enjoys history, particularly military history then take a trip down to John Paul Jones Park. John Paul Jones Park has a rich history, mainly due to its location near Fort Hamilton. Located right at the foot of the Verrazano Bridge, you’ll find a beautiful view of the bay while being surrounded by stunning wildlife. John Paul Jones Park is named after the American Naval Hero John Paul Jones, who became known as “the Father of the Navy” after his heroic actions during the American Revolution. The United States Military presented a 20″ bore, Parrott Cannon as a Civil War Memorial in 1900. Several other memorials have been presented to the park, the most recent being the 70 foot flag pole that once belonged to a Navy Destroyer. John Paul Jones Park continues to serve the people of Bay Ridge as a memorial of their history.




69th Street Pier

|69th Street Pier

Perhaps the most relaxing place in Bay Ridge is the 69th Street Pier. Before the construction of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, the 69th Street Pier was the site for the ferry connecting Bay Ridge to Staten Island. Today, the pier is the spot for fisherman to catch their bluefish and romantic couples to watch the sunset. The 69th Street Pier has arguably the best view on the bay. If you appreciate aesthetic beauty, then come on down to the 69th Street Pier and just enjoy the view!





Neighborhood Profile | Houses of Worship | Sources