Public Hearing Held on Bay Ridge’s First Historic District

South Side of Bay Ridge Parkway in Brooklyn. Image Credit: LPC.

Due to its high degree of integrity, the block still looks much like it did 100 years ago and still houses medical professionals. On May 14, 2019, the Landmarks Preservation Commission held a public hearing on the proposed designation of “Bay Ridge Parkway – Doctor’s Row Historic District” in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The proposed historic district would be Bay Ridge’s first, comprised of 54 century-old rowhouses located on the same block of Bay Street, between 4thand 5thAvenues. The limestone rowhouses, built in the Renaissance and Colonial Revival styles, are significant for their architectural integrity and aesthetic consistency. The block earned its name for the number of medical professionals living and working there, both currently and in the past.

Doctor’s offices became increasingly prevalent on the block during the mid 20thcentury, with among the first references to the area as Doctor’s Row appearing as an advertisement in a Brooklyn newspaper. Based on data, between 1910 and 1960, the number of medical professionals either living or having offices on the block went from three in 1910, to nine in 1920, to eleven in 1930. By 1950, more than half of the rowhouses were occupied by someone in the medical field. To read more on the history and significance of Doctor’s Row, click here.

At the public hearing, members of the Bay Ridge 400 Block Association, representatives of City and State elected officials, Brooklyn Community Board 10 Zoning and Land Use Committee chair, and several area residents – including medical professionals who work and live on Doctor’s Row – spoke in favor of designation. Residents urged Landmarks to designate this special block and thanked them for their consideration.

“In a city where the constant is rapid and substantial change, we must look to protect those places where there are good reasons for preservation. Landmarks are an important part of how people come to know, love, and identify with the places they live… I am inspired by the combined efforts by so many people it has taken to get us this far, and I am happy to join them in full support,” stated Council Member Justin Brennan via letter.

Also in a letter, Senator Andrew Gounardes wrote, “…Most of the decorative features from the original design still appear intact today, just as they once did when they were first built over 100 years ago. These design elements include ornate moldings, custom ironwork, and stonework facades. I join my colleagues and Community Board 10 in requesting that the Landmarks Preservation Commission grant the application of the Bay Ridge Parkway 400 Block Association seeking historic district status.”

On behalf of Brooklyn Community Board 10, Zoning and Land Use Committee Chair Brian Kaszuba, stated that he was excited for the designation of the historic district and hope that this was only the beginning of historic district designations in Bay Ridge.

Linda Assini from the 400 Block Association told CityLand, “May 14,2019 saw a final step on a path we undertook October 25,2016, when I emailed HDC requesting information to present to our block association on creating an Historic District. The efforts of many, and viability of our request are evidenced in where we are now. The community’s pride of place is palpable. We are feeling positive and very excited waiting for a final decision.”

Kelly Carroll, speaking on behalf of the Historic Districts Council, said that HDC was pleased to have worked with the property owners of Bay Ridge 400 Block Association in their efforts to preserve their block. Kelly spoke on the work that residents have done to ensure preservation of these rowhouses and their beauty whenever they were at a threat of major alterations, and for working on the application for designation. “Doctor’s Row has long been considered a stand-out enclave of Bay Ridge because of the high-quality craftsmanship, homogeny of its limestone houses, and also because of its identity as a destination of local medical offices,” said Carroll. Carroll also highlighted the importance of designation as a form of protection for these buildings that zoning laws do not provide.

The hearing was closed with no speakers in opposition. Chair Sarah Carroll stated that the proposed district would be voted on by Landmarks sometime in June.


By: Viktoriya Gray(Viktoriya is the CityLaw Fellow and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2018).


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