Last week, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley hosted an event to unveil over 70 new signs that will mark the 990-building Central Ridgewood Historic District, which was designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) in 2014.
“It's so important that we're able to preserve the rich history and culture that Ridgewood has to provide,” she said. “Although we've been able to do so much preservation, we still have more to do.”
Historic districts to the north and south were landmarked in 2009 and 2010. The central district was the first landmark designated in LPC chairwoman Meenakshi Srinivasan's tenure.
“I was struck by its historic uniformity, its cohesive streetscape of yellow brick, and the wide extent of these rowhouses,” she said. “And the fact that it's in Queens, a borough of immigrants, a place for all classes and cultures, made it all the more exciting.”
The district represents one of the most architecturally distinguished enclaves of working-class dwellings built in New York City during the early 20th century, Srinivasan explained.
“Ridgewood became an ideal location for upwardly mobile German immigrants that were overcrowded in Bushwick, Williamsburg and the Lower East Side,” Srinivasan said.
Community Board 5 chairman Vincent Arcuri's father was born in Ridgewood in the early 1900s and had his business here. He eventually moved to Glendale, but has spent his entire life in the area, so he's seen it go through many different changes.
"You could see that by the new influx of immigrants, the hipsters are coming, they're here already,” he said. “Everybody wants to be in New York and I think half of them want to be in Ridgewood or Glendale."
The city is actually lagging behind the federal and state register of historic places, which recognizes 2,982 buildings in Ridgewood while the city has granted landmark status to just 1,329. The city's landmark designation is the only one that ensures preservation.
There's a push by the Greater Ridgewood Restoration Corporation to designate the blocks bound by Seneca Avenue, St. Nicholas Avenue, Stockholm Street and Myrtle Avenue as a historic district as well. That area is represented by Councilman Antonio Reynoso.
“I hope that we can get everything landmarked and in a timely fashion,” Reynoso said. “We've been trying very hard for a long time, even before I was a council member, to get the historic parts of the district that are already federally and state recognized into the city process.”