As Brooklyn becomes more and more hip, one often hears in our corner of the Borough, "What about Bay Ridge? How do we make our community a destination?" I suggest we market what is unique and authentic about our neighborhood - It is truly Old School Brooklyn. There is the Farmacy in Williamsburg - made to be an authentic old school ice cream parlor. Well we have 3 authentic ice cream parlors - Annopoli, Hinsch's and Skinflints. I know the later is not used as an ice cream parlor, but the interior has been left intact and certainly feels as cozy as it did 100 years ago.
We can also build upon what we do so well, our street fairs and parades. Bay Ridge has the oldest Street Fair in Brooklyn - The Third Avenue Street Fair. One year older than The Atlantic Antic. These type of events bring scores of people back to the neighborhood and attracts others.
I can tell you that Bay Ridge has organically evolved as a destination for Scandinavians looking to see where their family members had lived, married and worked. The Norwegian Day Parade and Viking Fest is attracting people from the tri-state area and beyond. In fact, they have begun to attract people all the way from Norway. This past year, one Norwegian told me they plan to come back and knows many others who plan to also.
Two weeks ago 32 women from Norway (on a shopping trip) came to Bay Ridgefor the second year in a row. They were taken on a historic tour, as well as to the small boutique shops along Third Avenue. They plan to return again next year.
All of Bay Ridge's events are steeped in tradition, and have strong foundations. But, we are also open to new events, such as the Arab American Festival, Summer Stroll and this January a new arts & cultural event will be offered by BRACA (Bay Ridge Arts & Cultural Alliance) ww.bracabrooklyn.org in partnership with the Third Avenue Merchants. In fact, there was an exhibit held at the Municipal Art Society honoring the life and work community activist of Jane Jacobs. Those involved in the curatorial work were asked to choose a neighborhood today that reflects her ideals. Bay Ridge was chosen because it offers a place for long time residents, as well as welcoming newcomers. Not a bad reputation to have.
This year Bay Ridge was chosen as one of the 6 to Celebrate communities from the Historic Districts Council. The proposal focused on all of the components that make up Bay Ridge: residential architecture, main streets, beautiful intuitional buildings, parks and waterfront. How lucky we are to have all of these. Who else in New York can brag about such rich diversity?
So Bay Ridge, let's not hide all we offer under a bushel. As one of my former youth group kids says, "Bay Ridge is the bomb!"
(Victoria Hofmo is the president of the Scandinavian East Coast Museum, president of BRACA, and the organizer of 6 to Celebrate.)