Posts Tagged ‘Bay Ridge street’

Once a grand estate, now a park in Brooklyn

October 22, 2012

Owl’s Head Park in Bay Ridge is a gorgeous public park high along a glacial ridge overlooking New York Harbor.

But the cast-iron fence at its entrance on Colonial Road poses a question.

What does the EWB insignia mean?

It stands for Eliphalet William Bliss, a wealthy manufacturer of torpedoes, tools, dyes, and sheet metal presses who had factories in Brooklyn.

The 26 acres of Owl’s Head Park were once his personal estate, built not long after the neighborhood known as Yellow Hook was renamed Bay Ridge.

Bliss bought it in 1866 from Henry C. Murphy, a former mayor of the city of Brooklyn and congressman.

This stretch of windy, scenic Shore Road in Bay Ridge was a popular place for wealthy men to create their dream homes, and Bliss was no exception.

Bliss renovated the mansion, added a horse stable, and constructed an observatory tower.

He died in 1903, and in his will he offered his estate to the city at less than its true value for a park—which it became officially in 1928.

[Middle photo: NYC Parks Department; bottom photo: Brooklyn Historical Society]

Where are the eagles on this Bay Ridge overpass?

April 9, 2012

See these majestic granite eagles? They adorn what was then known as the First Avenue overpass, built in 1912 as part of Brooklyn’s Shore Parkway.

The overpass was torn down in 1941 to construct the Belt Parkway. And luckily, the eagles didn’t end up in landfill.

They were repurposed and moved to the Central Park Zoo, where they still stand, now proudly guarding the Sea Lion Pool.

“The provenance of the eagles was largely unknown until researchers working with the Parks Department Photo Archive uncovered photographic evidence of the eagles in their original spot,” writes

“And the Parks Monuments division discovered a cryptic journal entry from 1941 that noted an unnamed administrator directed the Monuments division to install the eagles at the zoo.”

[Bridge photo:; eagle photo:]