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Landmarks Preservation Commission September 15, 2009, Designation List 417 LP-2319

Testimony at the Public Hearing

On December 16, 2008, the Landmarks Preservation Commission held a public hearing on the proposed designation of the Ridgewood North Historic District (Item No. 4). The hearing was duly advertised in accordance with the provisions of law. Six people spoke in favor of the proposed designation, including City Councilmember-elect Elizabeth Crowley, and representatives of the Historic Districts Council, New York Landmarks Conservancy, Society for the Architecture of the City, Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association, and Greater Ridgewood Restoration Corporation. There were no speakers in opposition to the proposed designation. In addition, the Commission received three letters in support of this designation from City Councilmember Diana Reyna, the Municipal Arts Society, and the Metropolitan Chapter of the Victorian Society in America.

Boundary Description

The Ridgewood North Historic District consists of the property bounded by a line beginning at the northwest corner of Fairview Avenue and Woodbine Street, extending northeasterly along the western curbline of Woodbine Street to the western curbline of Forest Avenue, northerly along the western curblines of Forest Avenue to the eastern curbline of Gates Avenue, southwesterly along the eastern curbline of Gates Avenue to the southern curbline of Grandview Avenue, northwesterly across Gates Avenue and along the southern curbline of Grandview Avenue to the eastern curbline of Linden Street, southwesterly along the eastern curbline of Linden Street to a point extending northwesterly from the southern (rear) property line of 652 Grandview Avenue, southeasterly along said line and the southern (rear) property lines of 652, 654, 656 and 658 Grandview Avenue to the western (rear) property line of 2055 Gates Avenue, southwesterly along said line and the western (rear) property lines of 2053 to 2027 Gates Avenue to the northern curbline of Fairview Avenue, and southeasterly along the northern curblines of Fairview Avenue to the point of beginning.

SUMMARY

The Ridgewood North Historic District is significant as an intact grouping of structures that reflect the development of model tenements in Ridgewood in the early 20th century. A contiguous district in both typology and style, it is composed of 96 buildings, primarily three- story brick tenements, that encompass almost eight square acres in southwest Queens. The tenements were constructed between 1908 and 1914, mainly by the G.X. Mathews Company. Known as “Mathews Model Flats,” these “new law” tenements had larger rooms and more adequate sanitary facilities than their 19th-century predecessors. Built in long rows of repeated designs that create a sense of place, the facades retain a high degree of integrity and are distinguished by their buff- and amber-colored brick facades, carved-stone details, ornate pressed metal cornices, and stoop and areaway ironwork.

Transportation improvements and the consolidation of Greater New York City contributed to the development of Ridgewood, which was characterized by open farmland and several amusement parks in the 19th century. Denser building activity had begun with the coming of the electric trolley in 1894, and after 1898, Ridgewood was subjected to the eastward expansion of a growing New York City. Located adjacent to Brooklyn’s Eastern District (which contained the communities of Bushwick, Williamsburg and Greenpoint), Ridgewood became an ideal location for upwardly mobile German-Americans to relocate, away from the over-crowding and more recent immigrants inhabiting Bushwick and Williamsburg, as well as Lower East Side.

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