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Reasons to Love New York 2014

28. Because Bay Ridge Is the New South Slope

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“Within the closed circuits of rock & roll fashion, it is assumed that New York means Manhattan … If the other boroughs exist at all, it is merely as a camp joke—Bronx-Brooklyn-Queens, monstrous urban limbo, filled with everyone who is no one. In reality, however, almost the reverse is true.” So begins the most famous thing ever written about Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

It’s the opening paragraph of “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night,” by Nik Cohn, published in this magazine in 1976. The article, which became the movie Saturday Night Fever, was almost entirely made up. Cohn did travel all the way out to Bay Ridge—a car trip from Manhattan, he wrote later, that took “many hours” and deposited him in “a dead land.”

A less famous but similarly notable thing was written this year about Bay Ridge. “And this gorgeous, delicious lunch in Bay Ridge Bklyn … Make a date! X sj.” It’s an Instagram caption from Sarah Jessica Parker, accompanying a photograph of her lunch at Tanoreen. Of course, Brooklyn isn’t Nik Cohn’s Brooklyn anymore, and Manhattan isn’t even Sarah Jessica Parker’s Manhattan. The all-eyes-on-Manhattan attitude that defined Saturday Night Fever has been redirected—toward places, improbably, like Bay Ridge. The far-flung neighborhood accounted for 20 percent of new-development sales in Brooklyn in the first quarter of 2014 (a fact largely due to low inventory elsewhere), and unlike some more speciously named “heights” and “slopes,” it’s actually on the ridge of a bay. Water views abound. There’s a really excellent bike path. Elizabeth Spiers, the O.G. (Original Gawker), moved there. (“We’re too young for a Metro North commute,” she explained, “so Bay Ridge it is.”) Bay Ridge isn’t really being gentrified so much as rediscovered: It’s the suburbs recast as the suburbs, but with a few familiar New Brooklyn flourishes, like the farm-to-table restaurant Lock Yard joining old-school places like Areo’s, a famous red-sauce joint. Bay Ridge is no longer a dead land, which is good news for the entire city. It’s a happier New York when all eyes aren’t trained on Manhattan. Instead, everyone’s looking around at right where they are.


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