The neighborhood of Bay Ridge, located in southwest Brooklyn, is known for its 100-year-old houses, off-street parking and sunlight reaching between the buildings. It's also the place where Saturday Night Fever was filmed back in the late 1970's. The big city with a small-time feel has quite a colorful history that goes back more than three hundred years.
It was way back in 1661 when the Dutch colony of Nieuw Utrecht was chartered and the town we now know as Bay Ridge was born. Back then it was called Yellow Hook, named after the color of its soil, and the small village was one of the original six towns that make up the city of Brooklyn.
"After the yellow fever epidemic of the 1840s, everything associated with yellow had a bad connotation, so the people of the neighborhood wanted to find a new name," says Lawrence Stelter, vice president of the Bay Ridge Historical Society. "The locals got together and on December 16, 1853 they voted for the new name of Bay Ridge - a perfect description of the neighborhood with the bay and the ridge. It's been that name ever since."
Although there was a Native American village when the farmers of the Netherlands first settled, as the farms rose, the original inhabitants vanished and the Dutch were soon prospering in their new colony.
"There was wheat farming, vegetables, it was a big industry for many years," Stelter says. "Because of accessibility they could ship the produce to the markets from the shore. In the 1870s there was a steam engine and trolley which gave still more access, and then in 1916 the subway came."