an area of over 150 blocks of former farmland and picnic parks in Ridgewood was then experiencing intense growth. The construction of the Queensboro Bridge further contributed to the development of the area. The bridge opened in 1909, linking the roadways of Queens to Manhattan, just as the United States was beginning to embrace automobile travel.
From the turn of the century to World War I, over 5,000 structures were built in Ridgewood; industrial areas developed to the north, while residential construction occurred in the southern section.9 The developers built wood-frame houses until 1905, when building codes took effect requiring masonry construction. All subsequent construction in Bushwick and Ridgewood, including the Ridgewood North Historic District, was of masonry. Most of the builders, including the G.X. Mathews Company, hired the architectural firm of Louis Berger & Co. to design their rows, which were faced largely with bricks produced by the Kreischer Brick Manufacturing Company. Thus, many of Ridgewood’s buildings share similar designs, brickwork, and ornamentation.
Building stopped during World War I, resuming at a slower pace following the war and continuing until the last Ridgewood farms were developed in the late 1930s. During this period, more of the same types of buildings were constructed, including new-law tenements and attached and semi-detached single- and multi-family houses.
The straight-line boundary established by Arbitration Rock served Bushwick and Ridgewood until the early 20th century, when the establishment of a slanted street grid and rapid urbanization of former farm and park land created streets and sometimes individual buidings that were situated partly in both boroughs. The border was re-drawn in the 1920s, along a jagged line that followed the established street grid. However, Glendale and Ridgewood continued to use Bushwick’s post office, and therefore, a Brooklyn zip code.
In 1939, the WPA Guide called the area “old-fashioned and respectable;”10 Ridgewood remained a working- and middle-class neighborhood throughout the rest of the twentieth century. By the 1960s and 70s, because other parts of Bushwick had increasing “rates of crime and arson,” the residents of Ridgewood voted to change their address to Queens. 11
German Immigration in New York City, Brooklyn’s Eastern District and Ridgewood12
From its founding in 1626 by Peter Minuit, a native of the German town of Wesel am Rhein, New York City has had a significant German population. During the 1820s, the first German neighborhood and commercial center developed in the area southeast of City Hall Park and by 1840 more than 24,000 Germans lived in the city. During the next twenty years, their numbers increased dramatically as "mass transatlantic migration brought another hundred
9 In the early and middle 20th century, factories and warehouses were erected in Ridgewood along Flushing and Metropolitan Avenues, north of Ridgewood’s residential neighborhoods. This industrial area is located near the Newtown Creek and English Kills shipping channels, and adjoins similar commercial areas in Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Maspeth. In its heyday, the area had hundreds of knitting mills, oil refineries, and manufacturers of such products as glassware and pharmaceuticals.
10 Works Progress Administration, Lou Gody ed., New York City Guide, (New York: Random House, 1939), 460.
In 1979, Ridgewood and Glendale received a Queens’ zip code. (Encyclopedia of New York, 1005.)
12 This section on German Immigration is based on Landmarks Preservation Commission, (Former) Scheffel Hall Designation Report (LP-1959), report prepared by Gale Harris (New York: City of New York, 1997). Sources for this section include: Stanley Nadel, "Germans" and "Kleindeutschland" in the Encyclopedia of New York (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995).