Since the COVID-19 pandemic prevents them from holding in-person public sessions and presentations by prominent guest speakers, the Bay Ridge Historical Society, founded in 1976, will hold a showing of its treasured Samuel Winter Thomas photo collection via Zoom at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20.
The images of old Bay Ridge were originally shot back in the late 1800s and early 1900s by Thomas, a longtime resident of Bay Ridge and formerly Yellow Hook. He took the photos employing a vintage folding camera and using glass plate negatives which have been converted to CDs by the BRHS. Many have been subsequently printed in three books published by the Society. The titles include “Bay Ridge,” “Bay Ridge, Etc.” and “Bay Ridge Then & Now.”
His series of photos illustrated pre-development years when Bay Ridge had a long-forgotten rural beauty, with farms, country-style mansions and clubs that embellished the shore and waterfront along the Narrows.
Society President Tom McCarthy said, “All are invited. Free registration is required. Information on how to register and access the Zoom presentation will be outlined on the Facebook site of the Bay Ridge Historical Society, in advance of the meeting. We hope you will be able to join us for this exciting event.” McCarthy and Society First Vice President Henry Stewart will provide the commentary.
One of the most popular photos in the collection was taken along Third Avenue in 1895. It was a year after Bay Ridge, originally part of the Township of New Utrecht, was annexed by the then-City of Brooklyn. The photo shows a trolley car operated by the Brooklyn City Rail Road running along a tree-lined Third Avenue as it approaches 75th Street (aka Bay Ridge Parkway).