History of Ridgewood, NY

The Ridgewood area was in colonial times part of the Wyckoff and Debevoise farms, which were gradually broken up over a period of a hundred years. When the street-railway companies built carbarns in the 1860’s and ’80’s on land that was then just over the Brooklyn line in Queens County, their workmen and car crews began settling the new hamlet of Ridgewood. When the Myrtle Avenue “el” reached Ridgewood in 1889, the village grew rapidly. Most of the housing was built from 1900 to 1920, particularly by mass builders like Paul Stier and Gustave Mathews. Myrtle Avenue is the principal business street, with many stores and banks; the population has stayed roughly at about 60,000. The old time breweries have all disappeared, but small knitting mills continue the tradition of local industry. In 1986 Ridgewood was declared a historic district, and the Onderdonk House keeps alive the area’s Dutch beginnings.

JOHN C. DEBEVOISE AND HIS HOUSE, 1882. The still-standing John C.Debevoise house on the southwest corner of Fresh Pond Road and Catalpa Avenue (originally Myrtle Street), built about 1848. Debevoise was born in 1815 and died childless in 1897, leaving 24 acres lying roughly between Catalpa and 70th Avenues, Myrtle Avenue and Fresh Pond Road. The old house is now considerably altered from what it was in this 1882 engraving; it has recently served as a senior citizens' center. (Robert F. Eisen collection.)

JOHN C. DEBEVOISE AND HIS HOUSE, 1882. The still-standing John C.Debevoise house on the southwest corner of Fresh Pond Road and Catalpa Avenue (originally Myrtle Street), built about 1848. Debevoise was born in 1815 and died childless in 1897, leaving 24 acres lying roughly between Catalpa and 70th Avenues, Myrtle Avenue and Fresh Pond Road. The old house is now considerably altered from what it was in this 1882 engraving; it has recently served as a senior citizens’ center. (Robert F. Eisen collection.)

ARBITRATION ROCK, ca. 1910. This massive boulder of dark, rough, irregularly shaped stone, situated at what was to become the junction of Onderdonk and Montrose Avenues, formerly marked the boundary between Queens and Brooklyn. The line here was the occasion for a hundred-year dispute lasting from 1660 to 1769, which created intense bitterness and extensive litigation. The rock was visible for years but was covered or destroyed when Onderdonk Avenue was extended west of Flushing Avenue in the 1930's. (Queens Topographical Bureau collection.)

ARBITRATION ROCK, ca. 1910. This massive boulder of dark, rough, irregularly shaped stone, situated at what was to become the junction of Onderdonk and Montrose Avenues, formerly marked the boundary between Queens and Brooklyn. The line here was the occasion for a hundred-year dispute lasting from 1660 to 1769, which created intense bitterness and extensive litigation. The rock was visible for years but was covered or destroyed when Onderdonk Avenue was extended west of Flushing Avenue in the 1930’s. (Queens Topographical Bureau collection.)

 EURICH BREWERY, 1900. Conrad Eurich's Brewery on the south side of Wyckoff Avenue at Halsey Street as it appeared on a calendar put out by the company in 1900. This brewery passed through several changes of ownership and as many names: Leibinger & Oehm (1887-1895), Conrad Eurich (1899-1903) and, finally, the Elm Brewing Company, which went out of business in 1907. All the proprietors used the hand-and-axe symbol. The Brooklyn border is just back of the buildings. (The Queens Borough Public Library.)


EURICH BREWERY, 1900. Conrad Eurich’s Brewery on the south side of Wyckoff Avenue at Halsey Street as it appeared on a calendar put out by the company in 1900. This brewery passed through several changes of ownership and as many names: Leibinger & Oehm (1887-1895), Conrad Eurich (1899-1903) and, finally, the Elm Brewing Company, which went out of business in 1907. All the proprietors used the hand-and-axe symbol. The Brooklyn border is just back of the buildings. (The Queens Borough Public Library.)

VANDER ENDE_BEADEL_ONDERDONK HOUSE, 182O FLUSHING AVENUE, ca. 1900. On the Brooklyn-Queens border, this is one of the oldest houses in Queens County, the stone part dating back to about 1709, with traces of the older frame house going back to 1655. Vandals badly damaged the house by arson in February 1975 but the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society has restored the building, fenced the grounds and made it into a living museum of Queens's Dutch heritage. (From a postcard; Vincent F. Segfried collection.)

VANDER ENDE_BEADEL_ONDERDONK HOUSE, 182O FLUSHING AVENUE, ca. 1900. On the Brooklyn-Queens border, this is one of the oldest houses in Queens County, the stone part dating back to about 1709, with traces of the older frame house going back to 1655. Vandals badly damaged the house by arson in February 1975 but the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society has restored the building, fenced the grounds and made it into a living museum of Queens’s Dutch heritage. (From a postcard; Vincent F. Segfried collection.)

WELZ & ZERWECK BREWERY, ca.1905. For several decades up until about seventy years ago, Ridgewood was an important brewing center. Within a radius of about five blocks there were five big operators: the Welz & Zerweck Brewery, the Frank Brewing Company, the Elm (Eurich) Brewing Company, the Diogenes Brewing Company and the George Grauer Brewery. Most went out of business in 1920 when Prohibition came in. In this promotional picture the Welz & Zerweck Brewery somewhat exaggerated the size of its plant, as did the Eurich Brewery in the prior illustration. (Robert F. Eisen collection.)

WELZ & ZERWECK BREWERY, ca.1905. For several decades up until about seventy years ago, Ridgewood was an important brewing center. Within a radius of about five blocks there were five big operators: the Welz & Zerweck Brewery, the Frank Brewing Company, the Elm (Eurich) Brewing Company, the Diogenes Brewing Company and the George Grauer Brewery. Most went out of business in 1920 when Prohibition came in. In this promotional picture the Welz & Zerweck Brewery somewhat exaggerated the size of its plant, as did the Eurich Brewery in the prior illustration. (Robert F. Eisen collection.)

GROCERY INTERIOR, 1912. Henry Lindemann's grocery and delicatessen at the southwest corner of 68th Avenue (originally Hughes Street) and Fresh Pond Road. Note the fresh flowers hanging from the ceiling; a large block of ice cools the delicatessen showcase. The store featured Adolf Gobel's meats. A coffee-grinding mill is at left. Fresh Pond Road is still a lively shopping center. (Robert F. Eisen collection.)

GROCERY INTERIOR, 1912. Henry Lindemann’s grocery and delicatessen at the southwest corner of 68th Avenue (originally Hughes Street) and Fresh Pond Road. Note the fresh flowers hanging from the ceiling; a large block of ice cools the delicatessen showcase. The store featured Adolf Gobel’s meats. A coffee-grinding mill is at left. Fresh Pond Road is still a lively shopping center. (Robert F. Eisen collection.)

PAINT-STORE INTERIOR, ca. 1910. Interior of the Platz Brothers painters'-supplies store, northeast corner of Gates and Forest Avenues. This store is still in business today, run as a hardware store by a descendant of one of the original Platz brothers. Note the transition in lighting: kerosene lamps side by side with electric lamps; a goose-neck telephone is at the right. The price of paint ranges from 45 to75 cents a can. (Robeft F.Eisen collection.)

PAINT-STORE INTERIOR, ca. 1910. Interior of the Platz Brothers painters’-supplies store, northeast corner of Gates and Forest Avenues. This store is still in business today, run as a hardware store by a descendant of one of the original Platz brothers. Note the transition in lighting: kerosene lamps side by side with electric lamps; a goose-neck telephone is at the right. The price of paint ranges from 45 to75 cents a can. (Robeft F.Eisen collection.)

"MATHEWS MODEL FLATS," 1914. Gustave Mathews and his sons began building these solid, carefully crafted brick houses in Ridgewood in 1904. An apartment consisted of five rooms and bath, with an air shaft to give light to the interior bedrooms, all for rent at eighteen to twenty dollars a month. By 1917 over eight hundred of these "flats" had been built, mostly in Ridgewood but also in Astoria and Woodside. Pictured here are 1672-1674 Putnam Avenue under construction. (The Queens Borough Public Library.)

“MATHEWS MODEL FLATS,” 1914. Gustave Mathews and his sons began building these solid, carefully crafted brick houses in Ridgewood in 1904. An apartment consisted of five rooms and bath, with an air shaft to give light to the interior bedrooms, all for rent at eighteen to twenty dollars a month. By 1917 over eight hundred of these “flats” had been built, mostly in Ridgewood but also in Astoria and Woodside. Pictured here are 1672-1674 Putnam Avenue under construction. (The Queens Borough Public Library.)

CIRCUS PARADE ON CYPRESS AVENUE, 1912. A Barnum & Bailey circus parade passes Kreuscher's Hotel, at the corner of Myrtle and Cypress Avenues. Kreuscher's opened in 1860 as Andrew Beck's Hotel on what had been the Nicholas Wyckoff farm. George Stroebel bought the place in 1871, and, at his death in l878, John Kreuscher, his son-in-law, took it over. Aaron Levine ran movies at the right beginning in 1911; his was the first moving-picture theater in Ridgewood. Later Kreuscher's became a Labor Lyceum and, in the 1920's, a night club and speakeasy. (Robert F. Eisen collection.)

CIRCUS PARADE ON CYPRESS AVENUE, 1912. A Barnum & Bailey circus parade passes Kreuscher’s Hotel, at the corner of Myrtle and Cypress Avenues. Kreuscher’s opened in 1860 as Andrew Beck’s Hotel on what had been the Nicholas Wyckoff farm. George Stroebel bought the place in 1871, and, at his death in l878, John Kreuscher, his son-in-law, took it over. Aaron Levine ran movies at the right beginning in 1911; his was the first moving-picture theater in Ridgewood. Later Kreuscher’s became a Labor Lyceum and, in the 1920’s, a night club and speakeasy. (Robert F. Eisen collection.)

FRESH POND ROAD ELEVATED STATION, 1912. The tracks still ran on the ground at this point. The extension of the Myrtle Avenue "el" into Ridgewood in October 1906 is credited by real-estate developers as the primary reason for Ridgewood's runaway growth over the next two decades. (Photo bg N.Y.C. Board of Transportation; Robert Presbrieg collection.)

FRESH POND ROAD ELEVATED STATION, 1912. The tracks still ran on the ground at this point. The extension of the Myrtle Avenue “el” into Ridgewood in October 1906 is credited by real-estate developers as the primary reason for Ridgewood’s runaway growth over the next two decades. (Photo bg N.Y.C. Board of Transportation; Robert Presbrieg collection.)

ELEVATED STATION, FOREST AVENUE, APRIL 28, 1916. This view looks up Putnam Avenue to Forest Avenue. Fairview Avenue is at the left; the houses in the middle distance are on a continuation of Putnam Avenue. The houses on the right show the elegant roof cornices with their brackets, wreaths and swags, the fine moldings on the windows and the ornate doorways once so common all through Ridgewood and Brooklyn. (Photo by N.Y.C. Board of Transportation; Robert Presbreg collection.)

ELEVATED STATION, FOREST AVENUE, APRIL 28, f916. This view looks up Putnam Avenue to Forest Avenue. Fairview Avenue is at the left; the houses in the middle distance are on a continuation of Putnam Avenue. The houses on the right show the elegant roof cornices with their brackets, wreaths and swags, the fine moldings on the windows and the ornate doorways once so common all through Ridgewood and Brooklyn. (Photo bg N.Y.C. Board of Transportation; Robert Presbreg collection.)

LOOKING UP PALMETTO STREET TOWARD ONDERDONK AVENUE, APRIL 28, 1916. The "el" right-of-way, which turns off at this point, began as a steam railroad to the Lutheran Cemetery in 1881 and became a trolley line in 1895 and then a rapid-transit line running on the ground in 1906; the present elevated structure dates to February 1915. The fine architectural detail on the houses in the rear has in all too many cases disappeared under asphalt tile and aluminum siding. (Photo by N .Y .C. Board of Transportation;Robert Presbreg collection.)

LOOKING UP PALMETTO STREET TOWARD ONDERDONK AVENUE, APRIL 28, 1916. The “el” right-of-way, which turns off at this point, began as a steam railroad to the Lutheran Cemetery in 1881 and became a trolley line in 1895 and then a rapid-transit line running on the ground in 1906; the present elevated structure dates to February 1915. The fine architectural detail on the houses in the rear has in all too many cases disappeared under asphalt tile and aluminum siding. (Photo by N .Y .C. Board of Transportation;Robert Presbreg collection.)

BROOKLYN CITY RAILROAD DEPOT, AUGUST 29, 1916. This brick depot at Wyckoff and Myrtle Avenues was built in 1881 for the Gates Avenue and Myrtle Avenue trolleys. This car barn, plus the Bushwick railroad depot of 1860 across the street and, later, the Coney Island & Brooklyn Railroad car barn, created a huge street-railway complex that employed a great many men and was the direct cause of the first large-scale settlement of Ridgewood. Wyckoff Avenue was the border of the City (later Borough) of Brooklyn and the County (later Borough) of Queens. (Photo by N.Y.C. Board of Transportation; Robert Presbreg collection.)

BROOKLYN CITY RAILROAD DEPOT, AUGUST 29, 1916. This brick depot at Wyckoff and Myrtle Avenues was built in 1881 for the Gates Avenue and Myrtle Avenue trolleys. This car barn, plus the Bushwick railroad depot of 1860 across the street and, later, the Coney Island & Brooklyn Railroad car barn, created a huge street-railway complex that employed a great many men and was the direct cause of the first large-scale settlement of Ridgewood. Wyckoff Avenue was the border of the City (later Borough) of Brooklyn and the County (later Borough) of Queens. (Photo by N.Y.C. Board of Transportation; Robert Presbreg collection.)

MAP OF RIDGEWOOD DEPOT, 1916. Ridgewood depot was at its peak at this time, with about seventy storage tracks for streetcars, and tracks in just about every street, plus the Long Island Rail Road's Manhattan Beach Division. Today's Myrtle Avenue "el" riders making the turn at Myrtle Avenue and Palmetto Street would never suspect how important this corner once was. (Map by Jeffret J Winslou; Vincent F. Sefried collection.)

MAP OF RIDGEWOOD DEPOT, 1916. Ridgewood depot was at its peak at this time, with about seventy storage tracks for streetcars, and tracks in just about every street, plus the Long Island Rail Road’s Manhattan Beach Division. Today’s Myrtle Avenue “el” riders making the turn at Myrtle Avenue and Palmetto Street would never suspect how important this corner once was. (Map by Jeffret J Winslou; Vincent F. Sefried collection.)