History Thing of the past?

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Thanks to two famous fevers, Dec. 16 is the most definitive date in the history of Bay Ridge. But by the looks of things around town, it doesn’t seem like many people know why.

This past Sunday quietly came and went, despite the fact that it marked both the 154th anniversary of the birthday of Bay Ridge, as well as the 30th anniversary of the release of “Saturday Night Fever.”

Yet while these two events — literally and figuratively — put Bay Ridge on the map, few seemed to notice.

“I don’t believe anything is going on to commemorate the day,” one member of the Bay Ridge Historical Society told this columnist last week.

Likewise, when a manager at Lenny’s Pizzeria on 86th Street — made famous in the opening sequence of “Saturday Night Fever” — was asked if the shop was doing anything special for the occasion, he responded with a simple “no.”

Nor was there any public mention of either anniversary at the Community Board 10 meeting on Monday, Dec. 17, the day after the historic day.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised when history isn’t a priority in Bay Ridge. After all, this is the same place where a row of stately Victorian homes was bulldozed without so much as a sigh, a time-capsule was ripped out of the ground 47 years too early and the majestic Green Church could be demolished — and that’s just the last six months!

Enough, I say! After all, any column called “Yellow Hooker” couldn’t let this one slide.

What’s in a name? Here’s what: When the first Dutch settlers arrived in this neck of the woods in the 1500s, they called the area Yellow Hook, after the strange tint of the local soil.

But in 1853, an outbreak of fatal Yellow Fever broke out. As news of the growing epidemic spread, many locals were concerned that the name “Yellow Hook” might be associated with the disease and subsequently spoil a wave of planned development in the area.

And so, on a cold winter’s day — Dec. 16, 1853 — a group of local prominent landowners voted unanimously to rename Yellow Hook as Bay Ridge and save their fellow residents in the real-estate business.

Given the success of such a business move, I’m surprised so many people around here forgot about it.

Joe Jordan is a third generation Ridgite.

The Kitchen Sink

Dec. 16 may have marked the end of Yellow Hook, but it marked a new beginning for former Yellow Hook columnist Matt Lysiak, who is now practicing his craft at a little outfit called the Daily News. Good luck, Matt! … What does the Department of Transportation have against Fontbonne Hall Academy? That’s what some parents were thinking after the city denied a request to put a traffic light outside the high school at 99th Street and Shore Road. …

Hats off to our pals Phil Nuzzo, Therese Panicali and everyone in the choir at St. Anselm for their free Christmas concert last Saturday night. The house was packed and the joint was jumping (for the Lord, of course!). …

You have a few more days to reduce your holiday guilt by bringing toys to AhlTone Communications on 67th Street and Fifth Avenue, which is collecting presents for victims of domestic violence. …

Meet the new board, same as the old board: Congrats to the executive officers of CB10 who were all re-elected for the 2008 term. …

Our pal, Xaverian HS senior Anthony Liatsis, has been accepted to Stanford! Naturally, he was excited. “I’m ecstatic and overwhelmed,” he told us. And, naturally, the school’s president, Sal Ferrera, was equally excited for Anthony’s “hard work” and his parents’ “good judgment” — though he couldn’t resist putting in a plug, citing the Shore Road school’s excellent “preparation for college.”

Updated 4:34 pm, July 9, 2018
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