Day 18 – Friday, October 16, 2015

Saving the best for the last!  You heard that right!!  The last!  As TECHNICALLY, TECHNICALLY, I’ve now walked every BLOCK in Bay Ridge.  There are a couple of “loose ends” I need to tie up, but every street block has been walked!  Check out the map:

Bay Ridge Map

I have a great sense of accomplishment.  It felt good to complete it, but there’s also a weird sense of loss.  Now I’ll never be able to say “I’ve never been down this block before.”

This was one of my favorite walks.  Not just because it’s “the last” (although it’s really not – you’ll see…) but because this walk epitomizes some of the reasons for my love of the area:  its sense of peace, its parks (two of three were covered here) and its suburban style homes.  It’s suburbia in a urban world.  I walk this area often – sometimes more than once a day.  And now that I’ve seen “everywhere else” can I honestly say that there’s nowhere else in Bay Ridge where I’d rather live.  I’ll stay right here.  And now you’ll see why:

Two short blocks from the house, on the corner of 68th Street and Colonial Road, is the entrance to Owl’s Head Park.  When we were first looking for a place here, our land lady said “people live here for the park”.  She was right.  At the entrance to the park is a brick wall and a sign:

owls head entrance

I’m sure most of you will recognize the standard green NYC Parks Department sign on the right, but what about the “EWB” metal sign on the left?  What’s that about?  These are some of the original gates from when the park was known as “Bliss Park”, named after Eliphalet William Bliss, in the late 1800’s.  These gates were supposedly found “in storage” and were re-installed in 2002.  The park has an interesting history.  Rather than recount it for you, here’s a link that takes it back all the way to the beginning:

http://bklynr.com/the-forgotten-history-of-the-owls-head/

Once you enter at that gate, ahead of you is a grand sloping hill –

owls head hill

Roxy loves that hill.  Please don’t tell NYPD, but sometimes I let her off the leash to let her run up.  That oddly shaped tall pine on the right might just be my favorite in the park.  There were more trees on the top of the hill, but sadly we lost many with Hurricane Sandy.  This hill is a very popular place to go sledding in the winter.

Continuing to the right are the basketball courts.  This little guy makes sure that no one cheats:

owls head owl

Continuing a little further on the left is one of the largest skate parks in the city.  On weekends, the place is packed.  At 11am on a school day – not so much:

owls head skate park

From there, you can take the path up the large hill.  On our way up, this “thing” came out of nowhere and swooped right in front of us.  Scared the bejesus out of us!  This “thing” was a huge, gorgeous red tailed hawk who then flew up into the tree ahead of us.  We watched him for awhile and then he took off, making several loops around the terrace.  “The Terrace” – the area at the top of the hill that has recently undergone a renovation which included re-doing the pavers and the benches.  I can often be found up there, reading or doing work in the shade:

owls head terrace

Once you get to the other side of the terrace, you’re at the back end of the hill, overlooking the water.

owls head overlooking water

On the left side, you can just see the 69th Street Pier.  The land on the other side of the water is Staten Island and the orange boats are the ferries.  To the right of Staten Island is New Jersey (which you really can’t see in the picture) and the Statue of Liberty.

So then following the grass, you end up at the bottom of the hill, and the beginning of Shore Road.  Shore Road is the “Fifth Ave” of Bay Ridge.  I’ve even heard it referred to as Bay Ridge’s “Magnificent Mile”.  So we turn left on Shore (the only way you can go) and we head to our next stop, the Narrows Botanical Gardens (NBG).

lily pond

Walking along Shore Road to the main entrance of NBG, you come across this lily pond.  It is the only street side lily pond in the city.  Every year the NBG stocks it with fish and water lilies.  All of my pictures of water lilies are from this garden.  It’s so peaceful and beautiful.  Soon they will remove the plants and the fish and it will be a hollow shell (actually an old children’s sand box) for the winter.

The main entrance for the NBG is on the west side of Shore Road where 71st Street ends – directly across from Xaverian High School.  The entrance has this beautiful wrought iron gate and a path through the trees.  Beyond, you can see the harbor and Staten Island:

entrance NBG

Once you walk down that path, turn right, and you’re at “the loop” (another spot where Roxy can run in endless circles).  The wood fencing usually isn’t there, but they had their fall festival last week and the fence has not yet been removed.

NBG loop

On the north and south ends are the rose beds.  The west side is the “fragrant walk”, which has some of the most fragrant flowers I’ve EVER smelled.  I call this garden “mine”.  I’m here all the time.  I really don’t know what I would do without it – my sanctuary.

Once we loop around, we’re back at 71st and Shore Road.  When you’re exiting the garden, on the south east corner of 71st and Shore is this lovely apartment building – and on the right, what it looked like in 1936:

71 and shore      71 and shore 1936

I love its Tudor-ness.  I’m a sucker for it.

Continuing south on Shore Road, the houses start to grow and we start to get into Magnificent Mile territory.  But first, we approach 80th Street, where we find a house with a windmill

Windmill on shore

Cute, right?

But now we turn onto 80th into an area that is my favorite.  Halfway down 80th Street, there is a street called Harbor View Terrace – which is two blocks long (between 80 & 82) and has the most magnificent Tudor-esque houses you’ll see anywhere (excluding England).  All of these are on Harbor View:

Harbor View  Harbor View 2

Harbor View 3  Harbor View 4

Harbor View 5

And I’m not the only one who’s madly in love with these houses.  There were signs up on the telephone poles and trees saying that “Blue Bloods” was taping there – just a few hours after our walk.

So we continued to 82nd Street and headed west back to Shore Road.  Interestingly, Harbor View Terrace has no view of the Harbor.  It’s Shore Road that has the water view.  There are two dead end streets on the west side of Harbor View – and the houses at the dead ends have a view…a gorgeous view.

So now we’re back on Shore Road, headed north towards home.  These are the mansions that overlook the water.  They’re all built on the “hill”, or the Ridge from where the area got it name. All of these are on Shore, between 82nd and about 79th.  The first one is a ranch style home that always reminds me of the house on “The Brady Bunch”:

ranch on shore  houses on shore 1

In the picture on the right, there is a white house on the left.  This is one of the houses that is on one of the dead end streets off of Harbor View Terrace.  Those end houses face sideways, so the sides of the house get the Harbor View.

And then continuing northward:

houses on shore 2  houses on shore 3

houses on shore 4  houses on shore 5

houses on shore 6

A pretty special part of the world.  And with that, we headed back home, feeling very accomplished.  And though we’ve walked every street block, there are still some things I want to show you – so stay tuned! 🙂

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