If Norman Rockwell were here to capture quintessential scenes of New York City, he’d likely paint this low-key neighborhood as a series of life happening on stoops. Ridgewood is chock-full of historic row houses, most of them with generous steps out front. They’re a favorite spot for residents to hang out. Up until a few years ago, Ridgewood was known for its “Clean-Your-Stoop Fridays.” The event was really an excuse for neighbors to socialize on each other’s “urban porches.” During COVID lockdown, there was even a brief “Dance-on-Your-Stoop Thursdays” before that was deemed too risky.
According to the StreetEasy Data Dashboard, the median asking price for sales in the neighborhood was $1.3 million as of December 2021. Renters fare better for the same period, with the median asking rent at $2,542. It’s considerably more affordable than Manhattan’s median of $3,500 as well as Brooklyn’s of $2,675.
News of the area’s appeal and relative affordability seems to be on the rise. “For a long time Ridgewood was one of Queens’ best-kept secrets, and we did not see a lot of new developments. But as Bushwick — its neighbor, and in a lot of ways, sister neighborhood — developed, Ridgewood developed as well. Ever better, Ridgewood is a nice alternative to Bushwick, which is also very affordable for renters. Ridgewood offers a more residential vibe compared to the industrial style buildings found in Bushwick,” says Marie Bromberg, an agent with Compass.
Intrigued? Here’s what to know about Ridgewood.
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Where Is Ridgewood, Queens?
That’s a matter of some debate. It is technically in Queens and is in fact established as its own neighborhood. However, Ridgewood has also been considered part of its surrounding areas of Bushwick, Maspeth, and Middle Village. To add to the confusion, Ridgewood shares zip codes with a couple of its neighbors, so it can’t be identified by postal code alone.
However, we can tell you the neighborhood’s northern border is Metropolitan Avenue. Bushwick and East Williamsburg are to the immediate west, Maspeth, Glendale, and Middle Village border it to the east, and Highland Park is to the south.
“The location is great in that it’s close to popular Bushwick, but a little quieter,” says Parlor Real Estate broker Eric Bailes.
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What Is the History of Ridgewood?
In the mid-18th century, a single boulder known as Arbitration Rock settled the dispute of which borough could lay claim to Ridgewood by marking the boundary between Brooklyn and Queens. However, a more fitting name would be “Controversy Rock,” as it became a sore subject over the ensuing centuries. First, the rock was thought lost, then accidentally detonated by demolition, then found, then placed at the wrong site, then reclaimed.
It now sits behind the landmarked Vander Ende-Onderdonk House inside a white picket fence. However, its authenticity — whether it’s even the right boulder — is questioned to this day. There are at least two other rocks vying for the same title.
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What Is the Housing Like in Ridgewood?
The neighborhood boasts a whopping eight districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places, in addition to individual buildings. The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission has designated an additional four districts, including Stockholm Street.
These historic blocks consist primarily of three-story residential housing. Buildings include tan, stone row houses; single- and two-family brick homes, and six-family walk-ups. The architectural styles include Neo-Grec, Romanesque Revival, Renaissance Revival, among others.
“Most of Ridgewood housing inventory was built around the early 1900s, as such, you will find a lot of row houses, and exposed brick, which are characteristic of early 20th Century housing in NYC,” says Bromberg.
Some buildings began as tenement housing for those who worked at the nearby breweries in Bushwick. Others were single- or two-family homes that were later divided into apartments. The historic “Mathews Model Flats,” designed by Gustave X. Mathews, featured an innovative and efficient layout of two apartments per floor, for a total of six per three-story building. This later inspired similar layouts in other parts of the city.
Sales are few and far between in Ridgewood. Inventory can swing from completely renovated and modern single-family homes to buildings in need of major work. But there’s a robust rental market and bargains can be found closer toward Glendale and Bushwick.
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What’s the Commute Like?
The neighborhood is served by the M and the L trains, and with transfers, it’s about a 40-minute commute to Midtown Manhattan.
Are There Parks or Green Spaces?
Highland Park and the historic Ridgewood Reservoir provide 50-plus acres of green space to residents. Renowned landscape firm Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot designed the main drive and southern concourse of the park. One basin is a freshwater pond. Two others were drained and are now lush forests, fields, and wetlands, home to a diverse population of wildlife.
Grover Cleveland Playground and Park is perched on a hill and offers views of the Manhattan skyline as well as parts of Queens and Brooklyn.
Evergreen Park runs along one side of the Cemetery of the Evergreens. It’s not a large park but it feels out of time with its vintage lampposts, large old trees, and quiet walkways.
Spring 2022 will bring a new community garden to the neighborhood in Grover Cleveland Park, through the city’s Green Thumb program.
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What Is there To See and Do In Ridgewood?
Ridgewood is home to a lively bar and restaurant scene serving diverse cuisines from around the world. Several venues feature live music. Trans-Pecos offers all-ages shows but also functions as a café with a backyard, a bar, and an all-around community center during the day. Select happenings include yoga classes, after-school groups, computer clubs, music workshops, and more.
Bromberg is a huge fan of outdoor event space and restaurant Nowadays. “I loved it the minute it opened. It brought together an area of Bushwick and Queens that really was missing something,” she says. “From their DJ-centered events, and their outdoor park with ping-pong, it makes it worth the trip to go out that far, for any New Yorker, anywhere.”
The 1709 Vander Ende-Onderdonk House and museum is NYC’s oldest Dutch fieldstone house, dating back to when the area was farmland. It features classic Dutch architectural details, such as a gambrel roof, a central hallway, and shuttered double-hung windows. It is listed as a landmark with both the National Register of Historic Places and the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Greater Ridgewood Historical Society is housed there and offers events throughout the year.