Can you feel the pulse of the Bee Gees hit, “Stayin Alive”? Or maybe you got a whiff of red sauce bubbling on a nearby stovetop? Perhaps it was the distant clamor of traffic entering the borough some hundreds of feet above Narrows Bay via the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. All of these senses put you in Bay Ridge, an icon of Brooklyn heritage and a good place to call home.
Geography of Bay Ridge
Bay Ridge is its own little city by the bay. While you couldn’t really call it a beach town, it is a view-seekers’ paradise. There’s no better place to take in the views than along the Bay Ridge Promenade, which offers an uninterrupted 2.5-mile walkway along the water. Here you’ll find of walkers, runners, bikers, and, yes, even anglers throwing out a line and enjoying the expansive views and strong breezes. From afar, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is impressive, but up close it truly is breathtaking. Combine that with the looming container and cruise ships working their way through the channel, the open expanse of water and sky and this low-key Brooklyn neighborhood feels pretty special.
Bay Ridge Vibe
Bay Ridge is a neighborhood where families stick together and houses are passed down through generations. In fact, many homeowners in the area take pride in having lived in the same house since childhood. Over the ages, the mix of Irish and Italian heritage has evolved into the notorious archetype of Brooklyn culture. Bay Ridge is the inspiration and location for “Saturday Night Fever.” It’s where you actually hear people saying fuhgeddaboudit and every idea is conveyed with an accompanying hand gesture.
Renting in Bay Ridge
If you’re looking for a Park Slope vibe at a cheaper price, then Bay Ridge could be a great fit for you. It has the green space, a rich restaurant scene and plenty of available rental units, all at more affordable prices than its north Brooklyn neighbors. Bay Ridge has a median asking rent of $2,000, which is lower than the Brooklyn median and capable of saving you over $1,000 a month compared to Williamsburg or Park Slope. But, what you save in rent could cost you in time because only the R train serves Bay Ridge, which is about a 45-minute ride to Midtown. That said, many people living in South Brooklyn embrace the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge as a quicker and less congested method of escaping the city. Whether you work in New Jersey, weekend upstate or are considering a country home in the Poconos, departing the city from Bay Ridge can save you from hours of NYC traffic delays.
Transportation Access in Bay Ridge
Residents who like to drive are never far from the open road as the neighborhood is ringed by the BQE and the Belt Parkway. Unlike other neighborhoods in the city, most people who live in Bay Ridge own a car. Given the distance from the city, the ease of street parking and the fact that many homes have driveways and garages, owning a car here is a practical choice.
Although car ownership is high, Bay Ridge is also a very pedestrian-friendly neighborhood. It’s dotted with tons of pocket parks and gardens. Owl’s Head Park is the most impressive green space in the neighborhood with expanses of lawn to play and picnic complete with views of New York Bay. In search of an empty tennis court or a pickup hockey game? Leif Ericson Park will serve you well.
Bay Ridge’s main commercial drag is Fourth Avenue, which is lined with restaurants and stores and offers direct access to the R train, the neighborhood’s central subway line. The combination of the parks and small-town layout ensure that you never need a car to get around in Bay Ridge.
The Glorious Food of Bay Ridge!
With a large Italian population come some of the best Italian restaurants, bakeries and pizzerias in all of New York. Gino’s is the classy and classic family-run restaurant that has been doing it right for the past 50 years. Considering the white tablecloths, valet parking and serious portions, it is surprisingly affordable. Pizza Wagon is an authentic, no-frills spot that has been turning out primo pizza pies on Fifth Avenue for ages. But among the locals nothing is more of a staple than the Italian grocery and speciality market ALC on Third Avenue. It’s a true neighborhood joint where you can get all the fixings for a picnic or stock up on side dishes for dinner.
Bay Ridge continues to thrive by embracing the borough’s diversity and it shows in the newer restaurants in the neighborhood. The ever-growing Middle Eastern population is well represented with Tanoreen, a restaurant that many critics have called the best-kept secret in all of New York, offering perfectly executed takes on classic Mediterranean dishes. The Grand Sichuan House holds its own against the most authentic Sichuan-style Chinese joints in the city with a tremendous diversity of dishes, ingredients and preparations.
Head over to Bay Ridge, play under the shadows of the modern marvel that is the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, feast on something delicious and exotic and get lost in the Brooklyn-for-life vibes. Is this self-sufficient, seaside sector of Brooklyn the one for you?