The Part of Bay Ridge That Went for Trump

Bay Ridge 2016 Election Map
How Bay Ridge voted in 2016. Detail, via DNAinfo

Bay Ridge is composed of between 45 and 50 election districts, usually made up of just six or so blocks. (For these purposes, I’m using as borders 65th Street, Seventh Avenue, and the waterfront.) Hillary Clinton won almost all of these; even the Fort Hamilton Armybase voted for Clinton, by an almost 2:1 margin. Only four districts went for Donald Trump, according to data provided by DNAinfo, and they’re all contiguous, stretching roughly from Shore Road to Colonial Road, 76th Street to 92nd Street. This, of course, is prime Bay Ridge, from aesthetic and real estate perspectives; it’s where the nicest homes are—and it has a long history of well-valued exclusivity.

The area was first built up around 1908, and developers called it Crescent Hill, taking the name from the nearby Crescent Athletic Club, whose grounds later became those of Fort Hamilton High School, as well as the high elevation. (If you’ve never noticed, stand on 79th and Narrows, facing south, and look at the house on the northwest corner of Narrows and 80th, which stands atop a stone wall twenty-five or so feet high. There’s an abruptly tall hill here!) It quickly became the neighborhood’s most exclusive area; anyone who was anyone in early-20th-century Bay Ridge lived in a house in Crescent Hill, which would have been built according to strict regulations, which were eventually absorbed into the city’s zoning laws. It’s no accident that attractive and expensive free-standing houses persist. (You can read much more about Crescent Hill here.)

Narrows Avenue and Crescent Hill
The House on the Hill, via Google

And it didn’t go unnoticed by real estate men. Early redlining maps of Brooklyn, from 1938, infamously determined which areas banks would invest in; basically, all the blocks and communities where people of color lived were colored red, signaling these were places that were not safe for, say, mortgages. Hagstrom, the map maker, had four levels of “residential security,” and Brooklyn was a mix of all four. Most of Bay Ridge was blue, Second Grade, or B—relatively good.

The only part of Brooklyn to receive an A, or First Grade, or the color green, was, roughly, the old Crescent Hill development along the Bay Ridge waterfront. (Let me repeat—the only part of Brooklyn; even Brooklyn Heights was just a Second Grade blue.) This green rating extended from Bay Ridge Parkway/75th Street to 86th Street, Shore to Colonial roads, as well as the rest of Shore Road down to its intersection with Third Avenue, near the present-day bridge.

Bay Ridge redlining map
Bay Ridge, 1938, redlining map, detail, via.

This area remains the whitest part of Bay Ridge; the census tracts from 75th Street to 94th Street, Ridge Boulevard to Shore Road (census tracts are not drawn the same as election districts), tend to be about 85 percent white; the rest of Bay Ridge’s census tracts are about 50 to 75 percent white, according to data from the New York Times. It’s also where the most wealth is concentrated, according to maps drawn up by Business Insider.

Of course, that doesn’t mean everyone who lives west of Colonial Road is a rich white person who voted for Donald Trump, and we certainly can’t pretend to understand the electoral motivations of everyone who lives in this part of the neighborhood. Trump and Clinton had voters all over the neighborhood. This is just some history and data about where Trump had the most.

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  • Blue387

    How does the 2016 result compares to past elections? Has Bay Ridge become more blue than red and when did this change start?