Oh, how different the world was 22 years ago.
The Internet, as we knew it, was in its infancy. Most people communicated with pagers and landline phones; the iPhone was years away from being invented. The O.J. Simpson murder trial that had gripped the country for nearly a year was finally nearing an end, and the New York Yankees were fighting for a wild card playoff spot after going many years without reaching the postseason.
In our world, on Sept. 21, 1995, the Ridgewood Times published the eighth issue in its 88th year of publication. The issue featured stories about a failed jewelry store heist in Ridgewood; repairs on the old Kosciuszko Bridge; a town hall meeting with the mayor; and a couple of up-and-coming basketball stars from the borough.
Let’s hop into the DeLorean, rev it up to 88 miles per hour and take a trip back to Sept. 21, 1995, in the Ridgewood Times and Times Newsweekly.
The top story on the front page was about a botched jewelry robbery in Ridgewood. Four armed suspects stole $30,000 in jewelry from Gold Mine store at 58-12 Myrtle Ave. on the morning of Sept. 15. They then carjacked a vehicle to get away from the location. Officers from the 104th Precinct launched a huge search of the area and found two of the suspects inside the stolen vehicle in the area of Metropolitan and Eliot avenues; a third was stopped at the corner of 62nd Avenue and 60th Street. The fourth thief managed to get away.
The paper also focused on a meeting of the United Forties Civic Association in Woodside about repairs to the Kosciuszko Bridge. The group’s president, William Levis, suggested that a monorail be constructed alongside the bridge to reduce traffic in the area and cut down on pollution. Some residents, however, were fearful of any widening of the bridge because it might result in the loss of their homes and properties via eminent domain. In the end, there was no monorail, but the state Transportation Department in the next century finally got to work to build a new Kosciuszko Bridge. The first of two new spans to replace the 78-year-old structure opened this past April.
Also on the front page was an article about Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s town hall meeting at Forest Hills High School that drew 500 residents. Accompanied by an army of city officials, the mayor took questions on numerous quality-of-life matters from crime to education. Giuliani, for his part, expressed his desire to control the Board of Education. Mayoral control of the city’s public schools, of course, wouldn’t happen until 2002 under Giuliani’s successor, Mike Bloomberg.
Inside the Ridgewood Times on Page 4 was an ad for Jay Rose clothing store, located at 68-19 Fresh Pond Rd., which was holding a contest in which one lucky customer would win a $200 shopping spree courtesy of Alfred Dunner sportswear. Page 11 featured an ad from St. Aloysius Parish for its two-week, 10-day bazaar. Niederstein’s Restaurant had an ad on Page 22 offering is “Octoberfest ‘95” special in which diners could enjoy a hot and cold buffet, an open bar and music from a three-piece band for $40 per person.
In the Times Newsweekly classified, on Page 43, Greenwood Manor — a brand-new development located at 2116 Greene Ave. — advertised a one-bedroom condo available for just $88,000, and a two-bedroom unit for just $128,800. If you put down a 5 percent payment and took out a 15-year loan, the condo estimated that your monthly payment would be $729.18 for the one-bedroom condo and $1,057.67 for the two-bedroom condo (mortgage interest, taxes and common charges included). By comparison, the average monthly rent at the time was $750 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,050 for a bedroom unit.
In sports, on Page 52, there was a story about the Gauchos 1995 Roundball Classic in the Bronx, a high school basketball tournament featuring some young hoops stars from Queens. Among them were two players would eventually excel in college and make it to the NBA: Lamar Odom of Christ the King Regional High School in Middle Village and Ron Artest, an Astoria resident who attended the LaSalle Academy.
Odom would go on to play for the University of Rhode Island before entering the 1999 NBA Draft. The Los Angeles Clippers selected him fourth overall, and made the NBA All-Rookie Team in 2000. Over 12 seasons, he’d play for the Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks, winning two NBA titles in the process.
Artest, who later changed his name to Metta World Peace, excelled at St. John’s University, where he helped the Red Storm reach the Elite Eight in 1999. The Chicago Bulls would draft Artest in 2000, and he wound up playing for six different NBA teams (including the New York Knicks) over a 12-year career. Odom and Artest were together on the 2009-10 Los Angeles Lakers, help the franchise capture its 16th NBA Championship.
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