Bay Ridge is the land of my youth. It is also the land of my dentist, and I will be spending three Saturdays, at least, in Bay Ridge as my mouth continues its latest reconstruction. Bay Ridge has a number of lengthy north-south avenues and also has a number of avenues that carry names instead of numbers: Ridge Boulevard, Colonial Road, Narrows Avenue, and Shore Road; the latter is the oldest of the bunch, a sinuously curving road matching those of the Narrows, the inlet separating Brooklyn from Staten Island.
Though Ridge Boulevard and Colonial Road correspond, respectively, to 2nd and 1st Avenues, no-one calls them by the numbers (unlike, say, the treatment Bay Ridgers give Bay Ridge Avenue and Bay Ridge Parkway, which are called 69th and 75th Streets by one and all. Turns out Ridge Boulevard has some fine architecture to recommend it…
Some people believe I dislike all modern architecture. That’s a mistake: I dislike all bad modern architecture. Unfortunately, much of it is bad. I do like the Brooklyn Public Library Bay Ridge Branch at 73rd Street and Ridge Blvd., constructed in 1959. A plaque outside the door commemorates Bay Ridge’s 150th anniversary, determined by the committee to date from its renaming in 1853 as Bay Ridge, replacing the older name, Yellow Hook.
I frequented three libraries as a kid: most often the Fort Hamilton Branch, at 4th Avenue and 95th Street; our class trips at St. Anselm School brought us here to 73rd Street, but it was easier for me to get to 95th Street because the B63 bus took me right there. When I got into my teens I also walked to the Dyker Heights branch at 13th Avenue and 83rd Street. And, from 1978-1981, I worked as a flunky at the Brooklyn Business Library on Cadman Plaza. I actually enjoyed my time there, as the hours varied and I never settled into a set schedule. The books were interesting, as well.
Directly across from the library, at 7200 Ridge Blvd., is the large co-operative complex Flagg Court. I must admit that I would have liked to get some rooms here when I lived in Bay Ridge, but laziness, inertia and poverty kept me from doing anything about that desire.
The complex was designed by architect Ernest Flagg and completed in 1936. It was innovative, including reversible fans, exterior window shades (both now disappeared) and concrete-slab ceilings. Flagg also designed the Singer Tower, demolished in 1967. His mansion can be found on Flagg Place in Todt Hill, Staten Island, now a part of St. Charles Seminary.
To put it in a way that many vicars wouldn’t appreciate,I’m a sucker for a good ashlar brick surface — I just like the bricks of different sizes laid unevenly, but working out a perfectly proportioned whole. Christ Church of Bay Ridge, Ridge Boulevard between 73rd and 74th Streets, is a brilliant example. Founder Joseph Perry is remembered by Perry Terrace, nearby between 70th and 71st Streets west of Ridge Boulevard. The present 1853 church was constructed here in 1910 and designed by architects Ralph Adams Cram and Charles Goodhue; Christ Church’s original building still stands, as Good Shepherd Church, at 4th Avenue and 75th Street.
The presence of many gorgeous churches in Bay Ridge serves to alleviate — somewhat — the sting that the loss of the Bay Ridge Methodist (“Green”) Church at 4th and Ovington Avenues in 2008 produced. As the conerstone indicates, the Union Church of Bay Ridge was built at Ridge Boulevard and 80th Street as the Bay Ridge Dutch Reformed Church in 1896. The corner once held a conical turret, brought down in 1937 by a storm. I didn’t get a good picture of it, but the large picture stained glass window facing Ridge Boulevard was installed and designed by Tiffany Glass. The church has been known as Union Church since it merged with a Presbyterian church a block away in 1918.
Photographed October 2, 2010; page completed October 19.