District was modified from its initially conceived boundaries to exclude buildings uncharacteristic of district that lay on its edge. On December 9, 2014, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to approve the designation of 990 buildings in the Ridgewood section of Queens as the Central Ridgewood Historic District. Pending Council approval, the district will be among the City’s largest. The district adjoins the previously designated Ridgewood South Historic District, and lies close to the Ridgewood North Historic District. Landmarks held a hearing on the designation in March of 2011.
Similar to the other historic districts in Ridgewood, the area was developed in the early twentieth century, and largely settled by German-American and German immigrants. The residents were generally upwardly mobile and drawn from the crowded tenements of the Lower East Side and other sections of Brooklyn. The district is characterized by Renaissance-revival residential architecture, built in masonry due to changes to the fire codes in 1905. The district’s rowhouses were frequently faced in New York-manufactured Kreischer brick. The district displays consistent uninterrupted cornice lines, projecting bays, and brownstone stoops.
The speculatively-built neighborhood was designed by the firm of Louis Berger & Company, the architect of record for over 5,000 buildings in Brooklyn. The German-born Berger was himself a resident of Ridgewood. Landmarks Research Department staff stated that the district retained its architectural integrity and “ambiance.”
Landmarks Director of Research Mary Beth Betts addressed the Commission, stating that the staff proposed the elimination of several properties from the designation along the district’s perimeters, including an uncharacteristic wood-framed dwelling, a vacant lot, altered apartment buildings, and structures isolated from the contiguous rows of historic architecture.
Addressing commissioners’ concerns about the excisions, Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan noted that the area was protected by zoning that prevented any large out-of-scale developments. Srinivasan endorsed the designation, calling the district “a celebration of local talent and materials,” and acknowledged Council Member Elizabeth Crowley as instrumental in actualizing the designation.
Commissioners voted unanimously to designate the historic district, incorporating the recommendations of the Research Department.
LPC: Central Ridgewood Historic District, Queens (Dec. 9, 2014).
By: Jesse Denno (Jesse is a full-time staff writer at the Center for NYC Law).