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Get to know Bay Ridge

This neighborhood can feel like a surprise on the southwest coast of Brooklyn, especially if you arrive there by traveling south through Sunset Park. Soon after crossing 66th Street, the apartment blocks give way to freestanding homes (though many have by now been broken into multiple units) and, thanks to the geographical formation that gives the neighborhood its name, there are occasional views of the harbor and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Bay Ridge is one of the longest-settled areas in the city, the home of Dutch farms in the 16th century and later two villages: Yellow Hook and Fort Hamilton. (The current name was chosen in the 1850s to avoid associations with yellow fever.) Today it offers a very Brooklyn mix of some communities that have lived here for generations — Irish, Italians, Norwegians — joined by newer immigrants including a large Middle Eastern community.
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Commerce & Culture

While some bemoan that the same national chains dominate retail in many New York City neighborhoods, it’s a charge that’s largely inaccurate when it comes to Bay Ridge. Third and Fifth avenues are lined by mostly local businesses, not franchises. (Toward the southern end of Bay Ridge, 86th Street is an exception. If you’re in search of a Modell’s Sporting Goods or a Century 21 department store, you’ll find them there.) The so-called “Arab Heart of Brooklyn” is concentrated in the northern part of the neighborhood, and Fifth Avenue near 72nd Street is where you should head if you are hungry for kebabs or baklava. While it may not be home to leading cultural institutions, Bay Ridge boasts that it has more happy-hour bars than anywhere else on earth. Even if that claim is perhaps dubious, when you see the busy after-work scene, mostly concentrated on Third Avenue, you’ll take it seriously.

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