The Most Secret Street in Brooklyn, Right Here in Bay Ridge

Westerly Lane in Bay Ridge
Westerly Lane. Photo by Hey Ridge

Bay Ridge is full of little dead-end side streets—19 of them, in fact, from Baycliff Terrace near the pier to Jackson Court near the fort. These streets are legally private, meaning they fall outside of the jurisdiction of many city agencies: residents are responsible for their own infrastructure repairs, like busted water mains, as well as clearing snow and getting rid of their trash. (On the plus side, for car owners anyway, they’re exempt from many parking regulations, and the parking spaces are private.) One benefit they do receive, however, is a street sign: as long as a private street intersects with a public one, the department of transportation will mark it. That’s why many of us, from pedestrians to cartographers, know where, say, 78th Street Court or Wogan Terrace are.

But what about when a private street intersects with a private street?

Harbor View Terrace runs parallel to Narrows Avenue and the Narrows Strait, connecting 80th Street to 82nd Street; millions of Americans see it every week on CBS: the exterior of Tom Selleck’s character’s house on Blue Bloods is the block’s southwesterly most—just one of several gorgeous, enormous homes here. Even nicer, though, are the houses on the side street’s side streets: Harbor Lane (once called Crescent Court or Crescent Street, after the one-time local athletic club) and, especially, Colonial Court. The latter is perhaps the prettiest and quietest street in all of Brooklyn—if you don’t count the side street off this side street off a side street: Westerly Lane.

Westerly Lane on a NYC tax map
Via department of finance

Westerly Lane is the name of the driveway-like extension at the end of Colonial Court, connecting the backyards of 8019 Shore Road and 8045 Shore Road, running past back entrances to 8025, 8029 and 8033 along the way. You won’t find it on Google Maps or in street atlases, let alone on a street sign; the only map I’ve ever found it on is the city’s tax map (above). But if you ever wondered how the residents get in and out of those homes on Shore Road between 80th and 82nd streets—with bay windows pointed right at the bay but no stairs or front doors, let alone driveways—it’s via Westerly Lane, behind Shore Road.

8029 Shore Road is also 4 Westerly Lane, and its neighbor to the south, No. 8033—atop a tacky white stone wall housing two garages—was once 5 Westerly Lane; the two are the only addresses ever registered on the block, as far as I can tell. The latter is where “the Westerly Lane Corporation” was registered in 1971 (whatever that was); it issued 200 shares of stock before it was dissolved in 1983.

8029 and 8033 Shore Road in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, aka 4 Westerly Lane and 5 Westerly Lane
No. 4 and No. 5 Westerly Lane, aka 8029 and 8033 Shore Road. Via Google Street View

5 Westerly Lane, built in 1926, according to the department of buildings, appears more than ten times in the society pages of the Brooklyn Eagle, from 1928 to 1938. It was the home of Mrs. Graham Townsend (née Maude Cocheu), and the site of several notable luncheons and society bridge-matches. Husband and wife were married in 1907 and had a daughter, Dorothy, five years later. Previously, they’d lived at 77 82nd Street, a not unimpressive house basically around the corner, a wedding present from the Cocheus. (For Old Bay Ridge Society buffs, Mrs. Townsend was a bridal attendant at the wedding of George Schlegel’s son, and the two women both belonged to a local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Mrs. Townsend’s father, Fred Cocheu, led the fight to bring a subway line to Bay Ridge.)

Mr. Graham, born in New Jersey in 1884, died relatively young in 1931, leaving more than $300,000 (adjusted for inflation) to Christ Church, the Episcopal congregation on 73rd and Ridge, where he and his wife had been married and where both of their families had been prominent members. Mr. Graham Townsend’s wife received three quarters of the remaining estate, his daughter the other quarter. The house was last sold in 2010 for $4.65 million, according to public records. It no longer uses a Westerly Lane address.

4 Westerly Lane, however, does—sometimes. It shows up anyway in public real-estate databases: the house was built in June 1927, according to the department of buildings, and most recently sold in 2014 for $2.85 million, according to the department of finance. The buyer was possibly a local dentist—whose social life makes the papers far less often than his neighbors’ did 80 years ago.

Follow Hey Ridge on Twitter @heyridgebk

Westerly Lane satellite image
Westerly Lane via Google Earth