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Bay Ridge is a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. There are only two disadvantages to living in this lovely neighborhood: 1. It is far from everything, and 2. It is serviced by only one subway line (R). Those who must commute into Manhattan from Bay Ridge are pretty much screwed.

Bay Ridge reminded us of our neighborhood (Astoria, Queens) if Astoria were a little cleaner and the houses were nicer. There are many independent businesses, diverse ethnic restaurants, and much lovely architecture.

The insidious upscaling of America has reached Bay Ridge’s 3rd Avenue, where we saw spas, “lounges,” hip kid’s clothing stores, tchotchke shops, and other businesses that have little or nothing of substance to offer. Hopefully, the coming recession will cause people to reassess their need for purposeless items and services.

More info on Bay Ridge is available here.

More photos of Bay Ridge are available here.

Here are some reflections on our walk from the other party:

After some internet searching to learn more about the area, we set off on our trek to Bay Ridge. Initial searches revealed the more commonly known things – where Saturday Night Fever was filmed (802 64th Street) and that is known for its Italian food and particularly great pizza (This site seems to be a good source of all pizza-related news in the neighborhood). But we found a few treasures too online and even more on our walk (offline).

As mentioned, being near the end of the R line makes it a long ride that is limited to one subway line when there are delays. Tanoreen, rated #1 Middle Eastern restaurant in NYC and highly touted on Chowhound was a great treat and worth the subway ride. But always keep in mind hopstop is a great resource for nearby trains/buses and walking to get to places. The buses are under-used in NYC, but one blogger found that the express bus in the HOV lane was actually another great way to/from Bay Ridge.

Anyway, all happy NYers learn to treasure their subway/bus reading time, so that is the perk of a longer ride. Subway rides will easily take you to other great parts too of Brooklyn – like Prospect Park.

We didn’t know what particular zone of Bay Ridge you would moving to so our tour was limited to about the 77 to 90th Street areas and hopefully you are in that area as we were very pleasantly surprised.

Third, Fourth and Fifth Avenue were full of stores, restaurants, cafes. Fifth had more of your big-box stores – Circuit City, Chase bank, Dunkin Donuts – and looked like it was a hub of shopping on the weekends. It’s not exceptionally pretty but we have a similar type street in our neighborhood and it is great for errand-running. Plus Fifth Avenue has the only other Century 21 store in NYC (a mecca for visitors to Manhattan – one of NY magazine’s top 25 shopping destinations for tourists). Fourth Avenue had fewer stores and more churches, apartment buildings and such. I really liked Third Avenue. It is a bit more gentrified – which brings the good and bad aspects – hip children’s clothing stores (bad) but also bookstores, health food stores, cafes and more restaurant varieties (good). It was nice to see some older stores on all avenues that were not taken over – pharmacies, diners and hardware stores.

As is typical in most NY neighborhoods, Bay Ridge seemed to have a large variety of cuisines – Chinese, Italian, Thai, Mediterranean, and also ones not as typical in all neighborhoods – like a Polish Deli and a burek restaurant (Djerdan). I’m sure you’ll discover more treasures like that as you wander up and down the streets.

The housing in the area was everything from large old apartment buildings with beautiful features, to some boxy houses, to brownstones, to mansions (closer to the river). There were a lot of heavily tree-lined streets. If you don’t know where you will be living, I recommend you stay with someone for awhile and look around the area first to get a feel for it first. And also remember the subway and other areas are an easy option if you find a different neighborhood you prefer. The streets were very clean, even the avenues – I read somewhere it has to do with the fact that the head of the Sanitation department lives in Bay Ridge.

There are bike/walking paths near the water, however, along the water runs a highway, so there is noise around it. For a series of islands that NYC is, there is very little good usage of the waterfronts as most have highways along them, and the area closest to the water has never been turned into parks, with a few exceptions, mostly in Manhattan.

I think there are quite a few of these hidden streets like Shore Court (little old dead ends throughout Bay Ridge). There are streets that are steep enough to require stairs like in San Francisco around 74th and 76th Street – we did not see them in person – only online. There were some really interesting buildings – like the Gingerbread House and the Visitation Academy.

In the upper areas of Bay Ridge (where we did not go), there is a park called Owl’s Head Park that looks like it might be very big and beautiful. Owl’s Head seems to have giant skate park in it as well.

The website Forgotton NY features a lot of articles about Bay Ridge as the webmaster is from there and has a lot of great history of the area and places to see and look at.

The sites seem to generalize Bay Ridge as a more conservative area of NYC, but with the movement of people further out into the boroughs due to rising costs, and our spotting of a yoga studio and health food store, that’s bound to be changing too.

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