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Council approves Ridgewood site as historic district

In a nearly unanimous vote, the City Council moved to designate an almost eight-acre area in Ridgewood as a historic district.

The 96-building Ridgewood North Historic District (RNHD), which was unanimously recommended to the City Council by the Land Use Committee, passed the full Council on Monday, November 30 with 48 yes votes and one abstention.

The area covered by the RNHD spans most of the land between Forest and Fairview Avenues to the north and south and Woodbine and Linden Streets to the east and west, according to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, whose district encompasses the RNHD, said in a statement that the vote was a “long-awaited victory” for Queens residents.

“Preserving the history of Ridgewood is important for developing a sense of pride in our history and for the education of our future generations,” Crowley said.

Community Board 5 Chair Vincent Arcuri stressed the integrity of the original designs of the buildings, erected mostly between 1908 and 1914, to protect the neighborhood from overcrowding.

“We saw six-family homes converted into eight-, 10- and 12-family homes,” Arcuri said.

The three-floor tenements, according to Arcuri, are now attracting new families to Ridgewood.

“It’s a good sign to see families in a community, and Ridgewood is a family- oriented community,” Arcuri said.”

The brick buildings are commonly referred to as “Mathews’ Flats” after Gustave X. Mathews, who designed the tenements. Mathews’ tenements had larger rooms and better sanitary conditions, including better ventilation and running water, than earlier tenements of the Lower East Side and Williamsburg, according to the LPC.

The RNHD buildings were among the first built according to Mathews’ innovative floor plan, and are an example of the style that later became the standard for tenement construction in New York City.

 

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