City marks historic Ridgewood with street signs

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (l.) and Ridgewood residents unveil new historic signs to be placed throughout the neighborhood. Photo courtesy Elizabeth Crowley
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Elected officials joined the city Landmarks Preservation Commission and community residents to unveil new street signs marking the Ridgewood North Historic District last week.

The district, composed of 96 apartment buildings bounded by Forest, Fairview and Gates avenues and Woodbine Street, was constructed at the turn of the 20th century. The units were seen as a step forward from the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions associated with tenement housing.

The complex also transformed Ridgewood into a middle-class urban neighborhood, according to officials.

“The Mathews Flats are an important part of the city’s history,” City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) said. “This historic district designation ensures that the architecture and historical significance of these buildings will be preserved.”

LPC Chairman Robert Tierney said Ridgewood’s ushered in a new standard in apartments — a standard that continues to this day.

“The flats buildings of Ridgewood set a new standard in moderate-income housing in New York City when they were completed more than 100 years ago, and they remain as innovative, stylish and distinctive today as they were back then,” he said.

The new historic district street signs were funded by the New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the work of LPC as well as to foster public awareness with educational outreach such as the “Guide to New York City Landmarks.”

“The foundation is pleased to fund the historic street signs in Ridgewood,” said New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation Chairwoman Christina Davis. “This is a very exciting day for the community to gather together and celebrate this historic district in their neighborho­od.”

The Ridgewood North Historic District is the third historic district in Ridgewood. The Stockholm Street Historic District between Onderdonk and Woodward avenues was designated in November 2000 and consists of a block of 36 brick rowhouses constructed between 1907 and 1910.

Meanwhile, the Ridgewood South Historic District, bounded by Woodward and Onderdonk avenues and Catalpa Avenue and Woodbine Street, was designated in October 2010 and consists of similar Mathews Flats as well as the St. Matthias Roman Catholic Church.

Landmarks is also considering the proposed Central Ridgewood Historic District. Bounded by Forest Avenue and Fresh Pond Road on the east and west and Woodbine Street and 71st Avenue on the north and south, the proposed district would protect approximately 940 buildings of intact brick row houses built by German Americans in the early 1900s.

Paul Kerzner, president of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association, said the neighborhood welcomes the historic designations as it serves to benefit property values.

“If one were to look at historic districts throughout the city, it’s clear such designations protect the integrity of a neighborhood’s housing stock and its property values,” he said.

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Posted 8:50 pm, April 25, 2013
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