10. 257 Bay Ridge Avenue has a storied history

Map of Bay Ridge.
Map of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Photo from New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Sitting unassumingly at 257 Bay Ridge Avenue is Gateway City Academy. The building that this private religious school for kindergarten to eighth graders occupies has a diverse history. Beginning as the New Utrecht Exempt Firemen’s Association, the building once was a space for volunteer firefighters to rest and seek the advantages of the Exempt Fireman’s Association. At the top of the arched windows on the building, stone indicators highlight which fire departments frequented the building.

Since the volunteer firefighters owned the building, a Masonic Temple, church, and school have all occupied the building. The arched windows remaining on the building stand in contrast against the rigid rectangular windows of other buildings in between Third Avenue and Bay Ridge Place on Bay Ridge Avenue. A deep red awning for Gateway City Academy welcomes students daily, acting as an unintentional reminder that firefighters once called this building a second home.

Next, check out the top 10 Jewish History sites on the Lower East Side!