Posts Tagged ‘Bay Ridge’

Atlantic Avenue: the “Swedish Broadway”

February 22, 2010

Today, the harbor end of Brooklyn’s main drag has a mix of bars and restaurants, high-end boutiques and antique stores, and Middle Eastern shops.

But in the late 19th century, it was the home base of Scandinavian immigrants in Brooklyn, known as the “Swedish Broadway.”

(Photo of Atlantic and Third Avenue, from the NYPL)

A search through the pre-1902 Brooklyn Eagle archives turns up a Swedish press (Svenska Amerikanska Presson) at 563 Atlantic, a banquet hall (Tura Verein Hall) at 351 Atlantic, and a notice that the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Co. now prints signs in Swedish in street cars going through the “Swedish Colony.”

And an 1891 Eagle article describes the estimated 20,000 Swedes centered around Fourth Avenue as “frugal, industrious, and very well behaved.”

(Atlantic and Henry Street building, from the NYPL)

Bay Ridge’s Eighth Avenue soon took over as home to a large concentration of Scandinavian Brooklynites (mostly Norwegian) during the 20th century.

But back on Atlantic, one of the few surviving remnants of the old neighborhood is Bethlehem Lutheran Church (below photo), at Third and Pacific, established in 1874.

Another (now Episcopalian) church, at 424 Dean Street, began in the 1870s as Immanuel Swedish Methodist Church.

Taking a drive along The Narrows

May 20, 2009

Life is good in this circa-1930s postcard depicting The Narrows, the shipping lanes that mark the entrance to New York Harbor.

This must be Bensonhurst—or maybe Bay Ridge? One missing landmark: the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which won’t be built for another 30 or so years.

Thenarrowspostcard

The Belt Parkway hugs the shoreline. The back of the postcard calls it “the most scenic motor road in all New York City.”

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is turning 45

March 10, 2009

Best known for its supporting role in Saturday Night Fever, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge has been linking Brooklyn to Staten Island since November 1964. Below, a sketch of the bridge drawn before construction began:

verrazanosketch

Okay, so it doesn’t have the cache of the George Washington or Brooklyn Bridges. But the Verrazano can hold its own.

verrazanobridge

Until 1981 it was the world’s longest suspension bridge. One end is at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, the other at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island; these two forts are the historic guards of New York Harbor. And after the bridge was built, Staten Island’s population doubled.

Taking a joy ride along the river in Bay Ridge

September 14, 2008

The back of this 1906 postcard states that the view “looks north from 85th Street.” The riders in that vehicle must have endured some rough bumps along the road. 

I wish the postcard identified the structure with the lovely porch and turrets. In the distance you can see, faintly, the Statue of Liberty.

Bay Ridge got its name from the glacial ridge beneath it that provides high, sloping views of the water. Originally called Yellow Hook after its yellowish sand, this village in the town of Nieuw Utrecht was renamed following a yellow-fever epidemic that ravaged the area in the 1840s.