Making history in Bay Ridge: Doctors’ Row finally sees landmarking signage

Locals gathered Friday, October 28, to celebrate signage marking the Bay Ridge Parkway Doctors’ Row Historic District.
Photo by Peter Costalos

Bay Ridge’s sole historic district, nicknamed Doctors’ Row, finally saw the installation of signage late last month — more than three years after the block’s 54 homes were approved for landmarking in June 2019. 

The Doctor’s Row Historic District, situated on Bay Ridge Parkway between Fourth and Fifth avenues, includes mostly intact rowhouses built between 1906-1913, largely purchased by medical professionals who would often use the basement space for their practices.

The history of the block combined with the homes’ carefully preserved limestone facades and the street’s “boulevard feeling” were large factors in the area’s ultimate designation as a New York City landmark.

“This historic district has a strong sense of place that merits its designation as Bay Ridge’s first historic district,” said Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Sarah Carroll in a 2019 press release. “The historic district stands out in the neighborhood because of the high architectural quality of the limestone-fronted buildings in combination with the parkway’s boulevard feeling, and for its significant association with the historical development of the area, notably as a “doctor’s row”.”

The two-story homes were built primarily by one man who used just two architects, which resulted in the houses displaying a cohesive, mainly Renaissance Revival style with some notes of Classical Revival. Only slight differences can be seen between the different rows of houses.

Each home is outfitted with a basement and is connected by a continuing cornice line, which all of the houses have preserved. Today, the block largely resembles how it looked in the early 20th century, with some of the houses only undergoing minor alterations.

“Landmarks designation means we now have an army of preservationists to help us protect the integrity and beauty of Doctors’ Row now and for future generations,” said Susan Brown, a resident of the Doctors’ Row Historic District, in 2019.

As much of the community supported the landmarking designation, the signage installation was the final step in making the historical district official, and residents and community leaders joined together on Friday, Oct. 28 to see their hard work come to fruition.

“Doctor’s Row has long been an important piece of how people in Bay Ridge have come to know, love, and identify with their neighborhood. I am so proud to join residents and local activists in celebration of this community victory,” Councilmember Justin Brannan said in a statement to Brooklyn Paper. “It is a very cool feeling to be in office at this time, not only to have been a part of making it happen but to simply witness Bay Ridge’s very first historic district come to be.”

The city’s Landmark Preservation Commission did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

Additional reporting by Anna Bradley-Smith