I’ve only lived in New York City for 17 years and in Bay Ridge for 10. When I first moved here, I was struck by how often the city appears in books, film and television. I always knew New York was where so much popular entertainment is set, but actually being here made it more apparent. It was fun to spot my regular haunts popping up in pop culture, which had really only happened once when I was a kid (Logan’s Run—Fort Worth Water Gardens!). Those appearances amused me, but it’s exciting when you see your own neighborhood in a blockbuster film. Bay Ridge has appeared, and been mentioned, in dozens of films and television shows, and the iconic Verrazano–Narrows Bridge is showcased often. I get a twinge of excitement when I see where I live onscreen and get to share the neighborhood with the world.
I giggle when I spot Liam Neeson in Little Cupcake (9102 Third Avenue) in a commercial for Clash of Clans. I delight in hearing Peggy Olson on Mad Men mention us with lines like, “I’m from Bay Ridge. We have manners,” and I love the nostalgia of seeing John Travolta recite the history of the building of the bridge in Saturday Night Fever.
While I see films as what they are—entertainment—my daughter for a time saw them as historical record. As a child, even with the best special effects of the time, I knew fiction from reality, but I’m not so sure how a two- or three-year-old perceives such entertainment today. My daughter, a big fan of superheroes, has seen the modern crop of superhero films, and I share in her excitement seeing Spidey stop a train marked “Bay Ridge” from plummeting in the water (she can’t read yet, but I tell her). And when she sees Iron Man fly under the Verrazano, I believe she thinks that’s the real Iron Man—and he really just flew under “our bridge.”