Designated December 9, 2014
The Central Ridgewood Historic District is significant as an intact grouping of approximately 990 buildings and sites, most of which are brick row houses, representing one of the most harmonious, and architecturally-distinguished enclaves of working-class dwellings built in New York City during the early twentieth century. The historic district is located near the previously-designated Ridgewood South and Ridgewood North Historic Districts, which are comprised mainly of small apartment houses.
Most of the houses in the Central Ridgewood Historic District were constructed between 1906 and the First World War by German-Americans and immigrants from Germany. Most of the block fronts consist of houses with projecting bays, and were produced by the architectural firm Louis Berger & Company and a small group of local builders. In addition, most of the bricks used in their construction came from the Kreischer Brick Manufacturing Company of Staten Island.
The district exhibits a high level of integrity and retains the ambience that has distinguished it since its development in the early twentieth century. Transportation improvements and the consolidation of Greater New York City contributed to the development of Ridgewood, which had been characterized by open farmland and several amusement parks in the 19th century. Denser building activity began with the coming of the electric trolley in 1894, and after 1898, Ridgewood’s rural character was overtaken by the eastward expansion of a growing New York City.
Located adjacent to Brooklyn’s Eastern District (which contained the modern communities of Bushwick, Williamsburg and Greenpoint), Ridgewood became an ideal location for upwardly mobile German-Americans to relocate, away from the over-crowded conditions found in Bushwick, Williamsburg, and the Lower East Side. Urbanization accelerated with the opening of the elevated train around the turn of the century. Providing rapid and dependable rail service, the “El” was extended from its original terminus at Myrtle and Wyckoff Avenues to Fresh Pond Road and 67th Avenue in 1915.
Louis Berger & Company was the architect of record for over 5,000 buildings in the Ridgewood-Bushwick area between 1895 and 1930. Paul Stier, Ridgewood’s biggest builder, built over 2,000 houses in the area, including about half of the houses in the Central Ridgewood Historic District.
Most of the houses in the district were built after 1905 when the fire codes requiring masonry construction for attached rows were extended into Ridgewood. The brick buildings in the historic district have load-bearing masonry walls constructed of red-, buff-, amber- and brown-colored Kreischer brick used in various combination from houses to house or row to row. The buildings have fine detailing, mainly in the Renaissance Revival style, often mixed with elements from other styles, such as Romanesque Revival and neo-Grec. Significant features include cast-stone lintels, door surrounds, pediments, and string courses, as well as pressed metal cornices decorated with brackets, dentils, and swags.
Many of the original brownstone stoops, cut-glass and wood doors, and iron fences, railings, and gates remain intact, as do most of the pressed metal cornices. Many corner buildings were built with commercial storefronts at the first floors, most of which have been altered. Representing a cohesive collection of 4 speculative urban architecture, the row houses in the Central Ridgewood Historic District retain a high level of architectural integrity and represent an important part of the development of housing in New York City.
*Excerpt from Landmark Preservation Commission Designation Report
STATUS Designated Historic District
“I don’t know what the City would be without HDC. [They] testified before LPC time after time and helped us focus on the right issues. We would not be an historic district without HDC! ”
Doreen Gallo: DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance
“Use HDC as a resource because they know what they are doing and can offer advice on how to go about creating a district from every front: architectural, political, LPC, and the media. I had floundered prior to my involvement with this invaluable organization.”
Fern Luskin: Lamartine Place Historic District; Friends of Lamartine Place & Gibbons Underground Railroad Site
“HDC provided guidance and shared information during that process—we knew which Council members were going one way or another and we changed a few minds. I don’t think NoHo would have had as cohesive a district had it not been for HDC’s aid.”
Zella Jones: NoHo Historic District; NoHo East; and NoHo Extension
“I remember Richard saying at a meeting, we have someone here from HDC, Nadezhda Williams, Director of Preservation and Research, to help us. She said to us, ‘You are not the only ones going through this.’ HDC included us in an enormous community”
Erika Petersen: West End Preservation Society