Ridgewood is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens. It borders the neighborhoods of Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale, as well as the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bushwick and East Williamsburg. Historically, the neighborhood straddled the Queens-Brooklyn boundary. The neighborhood is part of Queens Community Board 5.
Originally, Ridgewood was part of the Dutch settlement Boswijk (Bushwick) and was later incorporated into the village of Breuckelen (now Brooklyn). A legacy of this past stands today; Onderdonk House, which was erected in 1709. The house is the oldest Dutch Colonial stone house in New York City. Also located at the Onderdonk House site is Arbitration Rock, which was a marker for the disputed boundary between Bushwick and Newtown and essentially Brooklyn and Queens.
Although the area was originally farmed and settled by the Dutch during the 18th and 19th centuries, it was the secondary wave of English settlers who named it Ridgewood after the area's green and hilly terrain. The development of public transportation, from horse-drawn cars in the mid-19th century and later trolleys and elevated trains, helped to spur residential and retail development. Most of the housing stock was built between 1905 to 1915 to house German immigrants who worked in the breweries and knitting factories that straddled the Queens-Brooklyn border. After World War I, the population expanded with an influx of Gottscheers (an ethnic German population from Slovenia who were dislocated in the aftermath of World War I) and Irish, followed soon after by Italians. In the mid 20th century, Romanians, Yugoslavs, and Puerto Ricans arrived; more recently, Poles, Dominicans, and Ecuadorians (including a significant population of Quechua speaking Amerindians from the Imbabura and Cañar provinces of Ecuador) have put down roots.
The majority of the neighborhood covers a large hill, part of the glacial moraine that created Long Island, which starts at Metropolitan Avenue, rises steeply for about two blocks, then slopes down gently. A good example of just how steep the hill is can be found at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish. The front entrance of the Church, which is at street level on 60th Place, is almost level with the second floor of the Parish school right next door.
Major streets in Ridgewood include Seneca Avenue, Forest Avenue, Fresh Pond Road, Myrtle Avenue, and Metropolitan Avenue. All are narrow two-lane roads (with parking lanes), and the high volume on these streets can cause traffic tie-ups during rush hour. The intersection of Fresh Pond and Metropolitan is especially notorious for being a bottleneck. The main shopping areas are on Myrtle Avenue and Fresh Pond Road. Other, smaller shopping strips are located on Metropolitan Avenue, Forest Avenue, and Seneca Avenue.
Border with Bushwick, Brooklyn
Today, Ridgewood's land area lies within Queens County. However, its political boundary with Brooklyn causes confusion and debate about where the western boundary of Ridgewood truly lies and whether part of Ridgewood is considered to be actually part of Brooklyn. Ridgewood and its Brooklyn neighbor community, Bushwick, have a grid plan street layout. Because the boundary between Brooklyn and Queens that was historically set in 1769 at the Arbitration Rock lay along a diagonal with this grid plan, the geographic boundary was adapted to the street layout, resulting in a zig-zag pattern. Buildings fronting on streets that "begin" in Brooklyn (i.e., located west of Forest Avenue and the Bay Ridge Branch), and the cross-streets that bisect them, follow a house numbering system commencing within Brooklyn (except for Myrtle and Metropolitan Avenues). Put more simply, as the numbering of residential addresses proceeds traveling from Kings County into Queens County, the political border is crossed without any change in the address-numbering system.
Until the late 1970s, Ridgewood and neighboring Glendale (Queens) were entirely served by the Brooklyn post office in Bushwick. Before ZIP codes were introduced, letters would be addressed to "Ridgewood 27, New York" or "Brooklyn 27, New York" After ZIP codes were instituted either "Ridgewood NY 11227" or "Brooklyn NY 11227." was used. Following events surrounding the New York City blackout of 1977 which marred the public perception of the Bushwick community, the communities of Ridgewood and Glendale expressed a desire to disassociate themselves from Bushwick. In 1979, the two areas were granted a Queens ZIP code, 11385, while Bushwick was designated a separate Brooklyn ZIP code of 11237.
Ridgewood is a densely settled neighborhood, with housing stock ranging from six-family buildings near the Brooklyn border to two-family and single-family row houses deeper into Queens. Ridgewood is visually distinguished from Bushwick by the large amount of exposed brick construction; in Brooklyn, vinyl siding is more common. Like neighboring Bushwick, nearly all of the buildings in Ridgewood are classified as combustible.
Most of Ridgewood was developed block-by-block around the turn of the 20th century. Most of the buildings were designed by local architect Louis Berger & Co., which designed more than 5,000 buildings in the area. The neighborhood has been largely untouched by construction since then, leaving many centrally planned blocks of houses and tenements still in the same state as their construction. These blocks include the Mathews Flats (six-family cold water tenements), Ring-Gibson Houses (two- and four-family houses with stores), and Stier Houses (curved two-family rowhouses). Many of these houses are well-kept and retain much of their early 20th century appeal.
Ridgewood is also home to Ridgewood Savings Bank, the largest mutual savings bank in New York State. Their headquarters is located at the intersection of Myrtle and Forest Avenues and was built in 1929. The building architects were Halsey, McCormack and Helmer, Inc. and the general contractors were Stamarith Construction Corporation. The building's exterior is made of limestone and contains an eight-foot granite base. The interior has travertine walls and marble floors.
In Ridgewood ten national historic districts were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983: 68th Avenue-64th Place Historic District; Central Ridgewood Historic District; Cornelia-Putnam Historic District; Cypress Avenue East Historic District; Cypress Avenue West Historic District; Fresh Pond-Traffic Historic District; Madison-Putnam-60th Place Historic District; Seneca Avenue East Historic District; Stockholm-DeKalb-Hart Historic District; and Summerfield Street Row Historic District.
In addition, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission has designated three landmark districts in Ridgewood:
- Stockholm Street Historic District, designated 2000
- Ridgewood North Historic District, designated in 2009
- Ridgewood South Historic District, designated 2010
The boundaries of these city-designated districts are indicated in their respective designation reports and may overlap with the federally designated districts listed above. There are also at least two individual city-designated landmarks:
- The Vander Ende-Onderdonk House, built "3rd quarter eighteenth century" and designated in 1995
- The Ridgewood Theater Building, built 1916 and designated in 2010
The M train runs through the heart of Ridgewood, and its connection to the L train at Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues at the south end of Ridgewood is a transportation hub, with a 60-million-dollar renovation completed in 2007. At the end of the Myrtle Avenue Line is the Fresh Pond Yard, a storage yard for the M train, although the rolling stock themselves are maintained at East New York Yard.
The Ridgewood Terminal at that station serves the B13, B26, B52, B54, Q55, and Q58 bus lines. The B20, B38, Q39, and Q54 bus lines also serve Ridgewood. In addition, the neighborhood is home to the large Fresh Pond Bus Depot, which services many of the buses that run throughout Brooklyn and Queens.
P.S. 305 is a public school for Pre-K to 3rd grade. P.S. 68, P.S. 71, P.S. 239, P.S. 81 and P.S. 88 are public schools that serve Pre-K to 5th grade. I.S. 77 and I.S. 93 are public middle schools in Ridgewood.
Grover Cleveland High School is the only high school in Ridgewood, and is the zoned public high school to most of Ridgewood. Over the last couple of years there has been serious debate as to whether this high school as well as a number of other schools should be closed down due to low scores and gang violence in and surrounding the school. To this day however, it still remains as the only public high school in the neighborhood.
Notable current and former residents of Ridgewood include:
- James Cagney (1899–1986), actor.
- Jeannie Ortega (1986–), recording artist, songwriter, actress
- Ron Eldard (1965–), actor.
- Bob Sheppard (1910–2010), public address announcer
- Pedro Beato (1986– ), Baseball Player
- Dan Schneider, poet and critic
- Gus Van (1886–1968), singer and vaudeville star, part of the team of Van & Schenck
- Reginald VelJohnson (1952–), actor
- John Ventimiglia (1963–), actor
- Rosie Perez (1964–), actress (attended school in Ridgewood)
- Tommy Ramone (1949–2014), musician, original the Ramones member
- City Council: Elizabeth Crowley (30) & Diana Reyna (34)
- State Assembly: Catherine Nolan (37) & Michael G. Miller (38)
- State Senate: Michael Gianaris (12) & Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. (15)
- U.S. Representative: Nydia Velázquez (12) & Yvette Clark (9)
All of Ridgewood's representatives are Democrats.
In popular culture
Ridgewood was formerly the site of one of the nation's oldest cinematic theaters, the Ridgewood Theatre. The 1,950 seat William Fox moviehouse was open from 1916 to 2008. Although landmarked, this site will now become an Associated supermarket.
Ridgewood has also served as location shoots for numerous major motion pictures, including The French Connection, A Stranger Among Us, Men in Black 3, The Wanderers, Brighton Beach Memoirs, The Jerky Boys: The Movie, Beat Street and Cop Out. In addition to these movies, scenes for The Sopranos were filmed on Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood on March 9, 2006, when a hookah bar next to the neighborhood bar, Glenlo's Tavern was detonated, and St.Matthias RC church was transformed into St Petri Norwegian Lutheran Church for Boardwalk Empire on July 12, 2012.
- Queens Community Boards, New York City. Accessed September 3, 2007.
- "The Vander Ende-Onderdonk House". Greater Ridgewood Historical Society. Retrieved 15 October 2010.
- New York Times: "A Neat Enclave Enriched by Waves of Immigrants" April 9, 2006
- WPA Guide to New York City: The Federal Writers' Project Guide to 1930s New York. 1939.
- New York Times: "The Germans Came; Now They Are Us; An Ethnic Queens Neighborhood Is Melting Away Into America" October 25, 2003
- New York Times: "Living in Ridgewood, Queens December 30, 2011
- "Growing up in Ridgewood, New York in the 1960’s–1970’s – Part 1" by Gerard Demarigny March 23, 2010
- Polish Migrations: From Brooklyn to Queens, and back to Europe by Shuka Kalantari and Daniel Macht; retrieved January 1, 2012
- All Peoples Initiative: Quichua in New York and New Jersey August 2007
- Lee, Jennifer 8. (November 2, 2007). "Is Ridgewood the New East Bushwick?". The New York Times. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- "Ridgewood MRA".
- Wilkinson, Christina. Forgotten New York: Ridgewood
- "NOTABLES ATTEND FORMAL OPENING OF BANK'S HOME" (PDF). THE DAILY STAR. March 17, 1930. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- "Stockholm Street Historic District". New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "Ridgewood North Historic District Designation Report". New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "Ridgewood South Historic District Designation Report". New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "Adrian and Ann Wyckoff Onderdonk House Designation Report". New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "Ridgewood Theater Building Designation Report". New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- Ballparks: 1862 - Present, Brooklyn Dodgers. Accessed August 21, 2007.
- Garcia, Krista (August 2, 2002). "Close-Up On: Ridgewood, Queens". Village Voice. Retrieved March 8, 2008.
- Yarrow, Andrew L. (December 29, 1989). "New Faces: Annabella Sciorra and Ron Eldard; The Actors Who Gave Life To the Couple in 'True Love'". The New York Times. Retrieved April 10, 2008. "I've always been disturbed at how Italian-Americans are usually portrayed in movies, but Nancy and Rich made it clear they weren't looking for stereotypes,' Mr. Eldard said. 'Half my family is Sicilian, and where I lived in Queens, in Ridgewood, is very Italian."
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ridgewood, Queens.|
- History of Ridgewood, NY
- 30th City Council District boundary map
- 34th City Council District boundary map
- New York Times story on 5 Families Move From East Village to Ridgewood
- Times Newsweekly
- Page about the Ridgewood Theatre, and the debate over borough identity
- Forgotten New York: Ridgewood