July 2, 2013

Around the Corner: A 4th of July Bike Trip Around Bay Ridge

Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, which was made famous by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, happens to be the ideal destination for a bicycle sight seeing trip that re-imagines the Summer of 1776. We begin directly under the Verrazano Bridge where 4th Avenue intersects with the Belt Parkway. From here you have a brilliant view of the bridge, home to peregrine falcons you can sometimes see soaring above the Narrows.

As you turn right and ride along the generous bike path next to the Belt Parkway, you can envision Admiral Howe's fleet of 130 ships that filled up the Narrows between Brooklyn and Staten Island preparing to put an end to the ambitions of the Continentals.

The British Fleet as imagined by Harper's Magazine in 1876

Continue along the path towards Manhattan and enjoy the view. Watch the Staten Island ferry cross back and forth while passing the Statue of Liberty, France's gift to America as a universal symbol of freedom. Take in the Jersey City and Manhattan Skyline when you reach the 69th Street Pier. Take a break here and watch the local anglers. On weekends you can often find an ice cream truck parked by the pier.


After your break, head up to Shore Road and turn left on the bike path. Follow the path to enter Owls Head Park, a piece of land with a varied past as a farm, the estate of Brooklyn's mayor Henry C. Murphy, the site of horse stables, and finally in 1928 a city park. Follow the bike path to the left and pass the dog run. Stop at the skateboard park and watch the amazing feats of the skating scene.

Alright, so no one was skating on a school day at 9:00 a.m., but you get the idea

Continue to follow the path and either cool off by running through the sprinklers at the Owls Head playground, or bike up the hill to get a fantastic view of your surroundings.

As you continue down the path down the hill, head back to Shore Road and turn left. The entrance to the Narrows Botanical Garden is just a few yards to the right. Get off your bike and stop to smell the roses at this gem of a garden created by local community members. If you come here on October 14th for the Harvest Festival, you can usually encounter some artisans of the Etsy NY Team who are selling their designs.

Exit the Botanic Garden at the 72nd Street end where you entered and return to the 4th of July theme of the tour by crossing the street and riding up Mackay Place. At the corner of Narrows Avenue and Mackay, you will find the smallest cemetery in Brooklyn, the “Revolutionary Cemetery.” It was founded in 1725 by Dutch immigrant William Harmans Barkaloo. Several Revolutionary War veterans were allegedly buried here. It is said that Lord Cornwallis occupied the homestead of Simon Cortelyou (tombstone to the left) during the Summer of 1776.
Barkaloo Cemetery

Head back to Shore Road and continue to follow the bike path. If you are here on 4th of July, you can stop by the 4th of July picnic at 82nd Street and listen to the local bands who will be playing that day. Either continue on Shore Road and get a feel for the local neighborhood, including Fort Hamilton High School, or cross back over to the Belt Parkway path by going through the park at the 79th Street entrance and crossing over the foot bridge. This whole loop is about 5 miles long, but you can extend it even further if you keep going along the Belt Parkway to Caesar's Bay, where you can end the day with a slice at Pizza D'Amore.

Enjoy the ride! Simone

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