A conversation with Julie Thum (ABR, ASP, GRI, SRES-Re/Max Metro)
What can I say about one of the finest communities in New York City, where I’ve resided for the past 31 years? This is my beautiful, amazing Bay Ridge, a bit of the “country” in the city. A small-town feel at the mouth of New York Harbor, the gateway to New York City. A great place to live, work, eat, shop, golf, enjoy community events as well as enjoy a bit of history.
What drew my husband and I to Bay Ridge all those years ago was the feeling of community and neighborhood we experienced when visiting friends and relatives here. It offered so much more than the bedroom communities of the suburbs, where you might live next to someone for years but never get to know them.
Among Bay Ridge’s many attributes is its wonderful community feeling, which makes it a great place in which to live. Many people tend to stay in the neighborhood for several generations, raising their children, grandchildren and even occasionally great-grandchildren here. We’ve also experienced an influx of many residents from other areas of Brooklyn, who were willing to sacrifice a shorter commute to Manhattan for the quality of life and community feel of Bay Ridge. The neighborhood is also a melting pot of so many different cultures, thereby offering a wide variety of little food markets and restaurants.
There are many small business owners in Bay Ridge, who actually know your name, adding to that small-town feel. When dining in our many excellent restaurants, service is always impeccable. Being in such a “tight” community means people talk, so you wouldn’t want to give poor service! There is such a wide variety of cultures that you could dine in a different place every night and not run out of eateries for quite awhile. Some of those are: Greek, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Thai, Polish, Russian, Irish, Norwegian, French, Italian, Mexican, Spanish and Turkish! We also have the best pizzerias!
Bay Ridge has a vast array of small, locally-owned-and-operated shops, which carry everything from bicycles to high-end jewelry, clothing and giftware, hand-crafted items, as well as great bakeries, florists, dance studios, a well respected consignment shop, printers, a toy store, a children’s art studio and many more businesses. We are also the home for the (world) renowned Century 21 Department Store, the Bay Ridge location of which was its original store. Anything you need to buy or own can be found in our neck of the woods.
Our restaurants and shops are supported by our local, very active and strong Third Avenue Merchants Association and Fifth Avenue and 86th Street Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), which constantly beautify the thoroughfares on which the local businesses are located. We also boast a very active Community Board (CB10) and the Bay Ridge Community Council (BRCC), which are always striving to keep our neighborhood safe and clean.
If golf is your passion, or if you just like to hit a few balls at the driving range, then our critically acclaimed championship Dyker Beach Golf Course is for you. The course is 18 holes on several acres of property, with a recently and beautifully renovated catering and banquet hall for all occasions.
Across from the golf course is our new SUNY Downstate medical facility and across from it is our highly regarded prep school, Poly Prep Country Day School, for ages from kindergarten through high school, as well as a summer camp. It has approximately 27 acres of prime property with wonderful sports facilities for its students.
We also have the most wonderful public and parochial schools, as well as another private school known as Bay Ridge Prep.
Further down the road from there is our VA hospital, catering to all veterans and attractively situated on park-like grounds. We are also the proud neighbors of the Fort Hamilton Army Base, located along the shoreline, offering facilities and housing to its military residents as well as the Harbor Defense Museum. Just outside the main gate is the Episcopal “Church of the Generals” where Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee worshipped. The base is also next to John Paul Jones Park (better known to locals as “Cannonball Park”), on Fourth Avenue and 101st Street. There you will find a monument to the veterans from World War I, as well as a very large cannon and cannonballs, which give the park its name. Many people love to gather there for picnics in the park as well as wedding photos.
Right there, under the Verrazano Bridge, was where the British invasion of Aug. 1776 took place and, hence, the Battle of Brooklyn/Long Island was fought. From there you also have a beautiful view of the bridge. If you cross over the trestle from Shore Road and down toward the water, you will find several miles of the Shore Road Promenade, which was completely rehabilitated a few years ago. People from all over love to come here to walk, run, rollerblade, ride bikes, or walk their dogs.
On Narrows Avenue and 71st Street is a very small, but significant, Revolutionary War cemetery.
Bay Ridge proudly boasts the honor of having the oldest Memorial Day Parade in the nation! We also have our very own St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a Norwegian Day Parade and a Fourth of July Parade. We are also a major route for the ING NYC Marathon. Our state senator, Martin J. Golden, has proudly called Bay Ridge his home for many years.
Since we are in the borough of Brooklyn and part of New York City, our property taxes are low (an average of about $3,000 for a one-family home, approximately $5,000 for a two-family and then up from there for multi-family dwellings). While our home prices did come down about 10 percent after the crash, we are very fortunate that we were not adversely affected and seem to have rebounded.
What I love most about “my home town of Bay Ridge” is its small-town feeling and how people come together in the wake of a tragedy. Just yesterday, longstanding members of our community, who are also friends, lost their home to fire. Yes, it was awful, but the community, starting with their wonderful neighbors on the street and all the way to our local organizations, businesses and politicians, stepped up to help. It was a great thing to witness and gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. It made me feel proud to be a resident of Bay Ridge!
In conclusion, if you’re looking for a great place to live, check out my hometown of Bay Ridge. You’ll love what you see!
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