bay-ridge-waterfront

It may be hard to picture now, but Bay Ridge was initially a summer destination for wealthy industrialists, who built mansions on the bluffs overlooking the Narrows. That history and the changes the neighborhood has seen since will be on the agenda Sunday at a Municipal Art Society walking tour of the neighborhood’s northwestern precincts.

Led by architectural historian Melanie Macchio, the tour will take in gas-lit brownstones, Victorian mansions, prewar apartment buildings, and shoreline parks with panoramic views of New York Harbor. (more…)

457 77 street2

The photos in this listing for 457 77th Street in Bay Ridge are not the best we have seen, but they reveal a well kept circa-1900 townhouse with oodles of details. These include stained glass, parquet with a zig-zag border, a dining room with wainscoting, a built-in sideboard, several wood mantels, and an elaborate screen.

The wood work does look as though it’s gleaming, and the listing says it was restored.

The house is set up as two floor-through apartments with a professional office on the garden floor (aka a two-family with a commercial unit). Taxes last year were $6,885, according to PropertyShark. Bathrooms, windows and heat are updated, according to the listing.

Does the ask of $1,295,000 seem about right to you?

457 77th Street [Jabour Realty] GMAP
Photos by Jabour Realty (more…)

memorial-day-parade-1-052215

The nation will be awash in parades commemorating fallen soldiers this Memorial Day weekend — but only one has run continuously since Civil War casualties were recent memories.

That would be the Kings County Memorial Day Parade, which kicks off for the 148th year in Bay Ridge on Monday. Run by the United Military Veterans of Kings County, it brings together veterans from every war going back to WWII, along with high-school marching bands, Irish pipers, antique cars, fleet week sailors and contingents from the FDNY and NYPD. Everything you want from a Memorial Day parade, in other words.

Leading the throng will be Grand Marshal Howard Dunn, a WWII vet and lifelong Bay Ridge resident. (more…)

178 68th street2

Here’s a listing for an entire townhouse in Bay Ridge. It’s got some great details, including herringbone floors, coffered ceilings and built-ins.

There are four bedrooms altogether. It’s only a few blocks from the Bay Ridge Avenue R stop, and Owl’s Head Park is at the end of the block.

The owner is asking $3,500 a month for the entire house.

178 68th Street [Dwell Residential] GMAP

Photo above by Dwell Residential; photo below by PropertyShark
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457-74th-street-8-031815

We seldom see a listing as remarkable as this one. It’s like a time machine back to the early 20th century, when this house at 457 74th Street in Bay Ridge was built.

We were planning to feature it as House of the Day, but by the time we saw the listing it was too late. Just 10 days after listing, it was already in contract, according to StreetEasy. We reached out to the agent for more info, but she declined to comment.

The photos reveal a two-family house seemingly preserved in amber, with mantels and many other quaint details. We hope whoever buys it will restore it. No doubt it needs a lot of work. The ask is (was) $898,000.

Do you think all the original details appealed to the buyers, or was it simply the relatively low asking price? (Or something else?) Anyone care to speculate on what the final sale price will be? What do you think of the house?

457 74th Street [Caldwell Banker]

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457 ovington avenue bay ridge 32015

We’re sure if you’ve spent any time in Bay Ridge, particularly on Ovington Avenue, you’ve noted this remarkable looking house at No. 457. And now it’s for sale.

There are no interior photos in the listing, unfortunately, but lots of information. First, it was built in the early 20th century by local developer Arthur Constant as his own house. Second, it’s chock full of original details such as pocket doors, mantels, stained glass, built-ins, pier mirrors, and even chandeliers and sconces, according to the writeup. There is a sunroom and a conservatory, and the mechanicals have been updated.

The floor plan shows what to us looks like a top-floor rental over a garden floor owner’s duplex, but the house is currently being used as an owner’s duplex over a garden rental. It will need restoration, according to the listing. What do you think of it and the ask of $1,650,000?

457 Ovington Avenue [Corcoran] GMAP
What’s up on Ovington Avenue? [Brownstoner]

Bootlegger, bmshistory8.wikispaces.com 1In 1920, a man named F. Donald Costa and his partner Joseph Brandino established a pharmaceutical company called the Adelphi Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Company. Their main product was a miraculous solution called “Dandrafuge,” which could stop dandruff in its tracks and grow hair on a rock. The company also made other tonics and cosmetic products.

Costa and Brandino were establishing their company at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties, that mythical time of ragtime, flappers and Prohibition. After January 1, 1920, thanks to the 18th Amendment, all forms of alcohol were now illegal. Because many tonics and medicines required some form of alcohol in their recipes or production, manufacturers had to obtain a permit from the government that allowed them to legally purchase alcohol. Adelphi had a permit that allowed them to buy 5,000 gallons of alcohol a month. They bought and used every drop.

Bottles of Dandrafuge were rolling off the assembly lines, and were selling like hotcakes, but not to those with follicle issues. Dandrafuge was incredibly popular to bootleggers. They bought up entire shipments, distilled the alcohol out of it, and made bootleg liquor and beer. This was not an unexpected by product of manufacturing, Costa and Brandino knew exactly what they were doing. (more…)

Spies, hwdefault.com 1On a cloudy day in 1913, all but two of the members of the Musica family from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn stood on a pier in New Orleans, waiting to board a steamer to Honduras by way of Panama. To anyone watching, the family was large, but unremarkable; two aging parents, and their adult and younger children. The parents were from the Old Country, speaking rapid Italian while admonishing their younger children. The oldest son and daughter, in their 20s, were the standouts; dressed in stylish and expensive clothes, the picture of wealth and success. Around them were the trunks and boxes containing the family’s possessions, ready to be loaded onto the ship. This did not look like a family on a vacation, these people looked as if they were leaving for good. And they were; the Musica family was on the run, and the law was hot on their trail.

Part One of this story will give you the background on the early life of Philip Musica. He was born Filippo Musica in Italy, the eldest son of a barber named Antonio and his wife, Marie. The three immigrated to New York when Filippo was a child, and he grew up in the tenements of Little Italy. His father opened a barbershop, and later, a grocery store, and it was there that young Filippo became Phillip, striving to achieve the American Dream. By the time he was a teenager, he had dropped out of school to run the store, and had branched out into importing. He was bringing in shipments of Italian cheeses, olive oil, pasta and other specialty provisions, and his father’s shop soon became one of the most profitable Italian importers in New York. (more…)

455 101st street bay ridge 12015

This three-bedroom house for rent in Bay Ridge seems perfect for a family. The 1,400-square-foot home looks to have been built in the ’30s or ’40s and has a roof deck, garage and finished basement with a separate entrance and a second bath. The living and dining areas are separate and look pretty spacious, and there’s a washer/dryer and dishwasher. It’s across the street from John Paul Jones Park, next to the Verrazano Bridge, and only a few blocks from the Fort Hamilton Army Base. If you’re relying on the subway, the R train is about seven blocks away at 95th Street. Do you think it’ll rent for $3,300 a month?

455 101st Street [All Points Real Estate] GMAP

Music, Edwardian lady, hairandmakeupartist.com 1Financial scandals, con games and rip-offs have been news since the invention of greed; so they’ve been around a long time. As our media and the 24 hour a day news cycle brings us news more quickly, every big Ponzi scheme, every large stock manipulation, every case of massive embezzlement brings headlines as the “scandal of the year/decade/century.” There have certainly been some doozies; Bernie Madoff being the one most people remember recently, but he certainly wasn’t the first, or even the most ambitious con artist we’ve seen. His profit may have been higher because of the times we live in, but he came from a long line of very smart, ambitious and audacious takers.

One of the greatest entries in the Con Man Hall of Fame has to be a man named F. Donald Coster. His great scandal of the century broke in 1938, here in New York City in the middle of the Great Depression. But Coster wasn’t his real name, and names are very much a part of this story. His family name was really “Musica,” and he and his family were a well-tuned chamber ensemble of white collar crime that went back well before 1938. Here’s their story: (more…)

9402-9420 Wogan Terr. 9404, KL, PS.2

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

Name: Row houses
Address: 9401-9421, 9402-9420 Wogan Terrace
Cross Streets: Off 94th Street, between 5th Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway
Neighborhood: Bay Ridge
Year Built: 1927-28
Architectural Style: Neo-Tudor cottages
Architect: Unknown
Landmarked: No

The story: Bay Ridge is full of little cul-de-sacs, one block streets and alleyways. A few of them are remnants of old streets cut off by more recent development, or by the highways and parkways that run through the neighborhood. Some, like Wogan Terrace, were created by developers who built this neighborhood up in the teens, twenties and even later. A friend of mine, a long-time Brownstoner reader, brought this block to my attention. And what a find it is. (more…)

Working platform for catwalk on the Verrazano Bridge, 12-27-62. Photo by Lenox Studios. Courtesy of MTA Bridges and Tunnels Special Archive

Prominent journalists Gay Talese and Sam Roberts are coming to the Transit Museum this Thursday to discuss the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which turns 50 next week, and Talese’s book, “The Bridge.” Published in 1964, Talese’s work explores the bridge’s construction, engineering, and the political drama that played out in Bay Ridge before ground was even broken for the 13,700-foot-long structure.

Before construction began, 5,000 homes and businesses had to be demolished, and Talese, then a reporter for the Times, covered residents’ impassioned protests against the bridge. Joe Spratt, an ironworker whose grandfather helped build the Verrazano, will join Talese and Roberts for the discussion. The talk will take place on Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Transit Museum, and tickets are free.

Photo via the Transit Museum, Courtesy of the MTA Bridges and Tunnels Archive