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Bay Ridge’s ‘Doctors’ Row’ becomes neighborhood’s first historic district

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The designation comes after years of community advocacy

Bay Ridge Parkway between Fourth and Fifth avenues is the neighborhood’s first historic district.
Landmarks Preservation Commission

Bay Ridge finally has its first historic district.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) unanimously approved the Bay Ridge Parkway Doctors’ Row Historic District, which spans the parkway between Fourth and Fifth avenues, as the southern Brooklyn neighborhood’s first stretch of city-protected structures. Sarah Carroll, the commission’s chairperson, touted the move during the Tuesday vote.

“This historic district has a strong sense of place that merits its designation as Bay Ridge’s first historic district,” said Carroll, who pointed to the neighborhood’s “high architectural quality” of limestone-fronted houses combined with the parkway’s boulevard feel.

The district includes 54 row houses constructed by the Bay Ridge Development Company between 1906 and 1913, and designed in the Renaissance Revival style with a handful roping in Colonial Revival elements. Miraculously, the more than century-old structures are largely intact with bowed fronts, low stoops, and cornices embellished with foliage and garlands typical of the Renaissance Revival style.

In the 1950s, half of the buildings boasted medical practices. One of the earliest reference to the block as a Doctors’ Row is in a 1949 real estate advertisement in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Today, dentists’, podiatrists’, and general practitioners’ offices pepper the area.

Josephine Beckman, the district manager of Community Board 10, which includes Bay Ridge, told Curbed in March how she and her family, like many other Brooklynites, would trek to the Doctors’ Row from Carroll Gardens to visit an orthodontist. In that way, the street not only captures the neighborhood’s historic character but also embodies a piece of the borough’s history, she said.

“We traveled there and for so many other people it’s such a part of not only our Bay Ridge history but Brooklyn history, city-wide history,” Beckman said at the time. “It’s the architectural design and beauty of the buildings, but also the historical significance of Doctors’ Row.”