Bay Ridge is a neighborhood in the southwest corner of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It is bounded by Sunset Park on the north, Dyker Heights on the east, the Narrows and the Belt Parkway on the west,Fort Hamilton Army Base in the southwest corner, and the Verrazano Bridge on the south.
The first Dutch settlers began farming here in the 17th century. Well into the 19th century, what’s now considered Bay Ridge consisted of two sister villages: Yellow Hook to the north, named for the color of the soil, and Fort Hamilton to the south, named for the military installation at its center. The latter began to develop in the 1830s as a resort destination to lodge visitors to the army base. The former began to develop after 1850, when a group of artists moved to the area and founded a colony called Ovington Village; before that, it was mostly farmland.
In the 1850s, the village changed the community’s name to avoid association with yellow fever. "Bay Ridge" was suggested by local horticulturist James Weir after the area’s most prominent geographic features: the high ridge that offered views of New York Bay. The natural beauty attracted the wealthy, who built country homes along Shore Road, overlooking the water. By World War II, almost all of these large houses had been replaced with apartment buildings.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many Norwegian and Danish sailors emigrated to Brooklyn, including Bay Ridge and neighboring Sunset Park; Lapskaus Boulevard, referring to the salted Norwegian beef stew, was the nickname of Eighth Avenue in this area. Development took off after the Fourth Avenue subway (today's R train) arrived in 1916, and accelerated through the 1920s, when the number of apartment buildings increased fivefold, replacing old farms, homesteads and houses.
Construction of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Bay Ridge to Staten Island, was completed in 1964. Though now an iconic structure, it was opposed by residents because it would require the demolition of many homes and businesses. Eight hundred buildings were destroyed, displacing 7,000 people, to make room for the bridge and its approach. 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 Senator Street Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. The Houses at 216-264 Ovington Ave. was listed in 2007.
The area is served by the R train on the BMT Fourth Avenue Line of the New York City Subway between Bay Ridge Avenue and 95th Street.
Additionally, there are MTA express bus routes X27, X37 which mainly serve for the commute to Manhattan, but also run during off-peak hours on weekdays. The X27 also runs on weekends. The routes X28, X38 also serve the eastern part of Bay Ridge. Many Bay Ridge commuters opt for the relative comfort and convenience of the express bus. Bay Ridge is readily accessible by car, encircled by the Belt Parkway and Gowanus Expressway. Local bus routes include B1, B4, B8, B9, B16, B37, B63, B64, B70, S53, S79 SBS, S93.
The freight-only Bay Ridge Branch connects car floats to the Long Island Rail Road.
Bay Ridge is expected to be served by the Citywide Ferry Service starting in 2017.
Primary and secondary schools
New York City Department of Education operates area public schools. Educational institutions in Bay Ridge include; P.S. 102, P.S. 170, P.S. 127, P.S. 185 (Walter Kassenbrock Elementary School), P.S. 104 (called the Fort Hamilton School), Lutheran Elementary School, St. Anselm's Roman Catholic School, I.S. 30 (also known as Mary White Ovington), I.S.259 (also known as William McKinley Junior High School) Angels Catholic Academy Holy Bay Ridge Preparatory School, Fort Hamilton High School, High School of Telecommunications (originally all-girls Bay Ridge High School), Poly Prep Country Day School, Visitation Academy, Adelphi Academy, Fontbonne Hall Academy, St. Patrick Elementary School, D., G. Kaloidis Parochial School, and Xaverian High School. Fort Hamilton High School, between 83rd and 85th streets, was erected in the 1940s on the grounds of the Crescent Athletic Club, a country club. The High School of Telecommunications was formerly Bay Ridge High School, which was once an all-girls school.
Historic Fort Hamilton is located in the southwestern corner of the New York City borough of Brooklyn surrounded by the communities of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, and is one of several posts that are part of the region which is headquartered by the Military District of Washington. Its mission is to provide the New York metropolitan area with military installation support for the Army National Guard and the United States Army Reserve.
On July 4, 1776, a small American battery on the site of today's Fort Hamilton (the east side of the Narrows) fired into one of the British men-of-war convoying troops to suppress the American Revolution. HMS Asia suffered damage and casualties, but opposition to the immense fleet could be little more than symbolic. The very significant event however marked one of the earliest uses of the site for military purposes.
The War of 1812 underscored the importance of coastal defense and helped to promote a new round of fort building. The cornerstone for Fort Hamilton was set in place on June 11, 1825. Six years and a half million dollars later, the fort was ready to receive its garrison.
Though references to the structure as Fort Hamilton occur as early as 1826, it was not officially named for the former Senior Officer of the United States Army and first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, until the twentieth century. In 1839 the Federal government gave permission to New York State's 27th Regiment to drill at the fort, thus qualifying it as the nation's first National Guard training camp. The following year, it allocated $20,000 to improve the fort's armaments, and Captain Robert E. Lee was assigned the task of improving the defenses of the fort as well as those of other military installations in the area. Lee served as Fort Hamilton's post engineer from 1841 to 1846. Lieutenant Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson also served at Fort Hamilton and Captain Abner Doubleday served as the post commander in 1861.
During the Civil War, Fort Hamilton's garrison expanded. A ship barrier across the Narrows assisted Fort Hamilton and its sister forts on Staten Island, now called Fort Wadsworth, in protecting the harbor against the possibility of Confederate raiders. The forts also provided troops to help put down the New York Draft Riots of 1863. Rifled cannon made vertical-walled masonry fortifications obsolete during the Civil War, and in the last decades of the nineteenth century great advances in military technology brought a whole new generation of long-range guns mounted in inconspicuous emplacements. In the two World Wars, Fort Hamilton served as a major embarkation and separation center.
In 1948, the last coast defense gun was removed from Fort Hamilton.
Fort Hamilton is the last active-duty military post in New York City.
At present, U.S. Army Fort Hamilton Garrison is the home of the New York City Recruiting Battalion, the Military Entrance Processing Station, the North Atlantic Division Headquarters of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the 1179th Transportation Brigade and the 722nd Aeromedical Staging Squadron, the latter organization being a geographically separated unit (GSU) of the 439th Airlift Wing of the Air Force Reserve Command.
Fort Hamilton also supports many Army Reserve and New York Army National Guard units, These Army National Guard units include the 133d Quartermaster Company, Company C/642d Aviation Support Battalion, 222d Chemical Company, and the 107th Military Police Company. In October 1997, Fort Hamilton came under the command of the Military District of Washington and in October 2002, under Army Transformation, Fort Hamilton became part of the Installation Management Agency - Northeast Region.
Construction of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the early 1960s did away with several historic structures, including Fort Lafayette, which was located near the Brooklyn shore where the bridge tower now rises from the water. During the same period, efforts toward saving the historical heritage of the Narrows increased. Part of the U.S. Army's contribution to preserving this heritage is in the Harbor Defense Museum at Fort Hamilton.
The original fort later became the Officers' Club and now houses the Community Club. The caponier, a miniature fort guarding the main fort's gate, now houses the Harbor Defense Museum. Other notable landmarks include the Robert E. Lee House, where Lee, then a captain, resided while commander of the garrison, and Colonels' Row, six historic townhouses that used to house senior officers. All of these structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In the 2000s, the historic parade field that once lay behind the old New York Area Command (NYAC) Headquarters Building and the Military Personnel Office, former site of numerous ceremonies and festivities, was developed into swiftly built privatized housing. The historic flag pole and cannon are still present at the site, near the old headquarters building and across from the Post Exchange barber shop.
In 2007, the historic, brick barracks, located on the plot of land within Pershing Loop on the eastern portion of the base, which formerly housed the New York Area Command's Ceremonial Platoon and Military Police Company, was demolished. The ceremonial platoon, consisting of only infantrymen, once performed funeral honors and ceremonial functions (such as deployment as color guards in New York City parades, or firing cannons to start the New York City Marathon), in the greater N.Y. area, including Long Island, New York City, as well as parts of New Jersey, along with the 26th Army Band unit that was similar to the Old Guard in Washington, D.C.
The last of the NYAC Ceremonial Platoon left in 1995-1996.