Das Neighborhood es Kaput
by John Delach
The invasion that the citizens of Ridgewood, Queens had been dreading for over 60 years has finally come to pass albeit not the one they expected. So Ben Detrick reported in the NY Times on November 5, 2014:
The trajectory is familiar, and the players have slid into familiar position: broke millennials, underemployed artists, craven property speculators, fearful natives and first-time homeowners priced out of other markets.
“When I first moved there, I never saw people that were my age,” said Caitlin White, 26, an editor of MTV News who moved to Ridgewood last year from Red Hook, Brooklyn. “Creative people love to be the ones that explore new territory.”
This was not what was supposed to be Ridgewood’s fate. White flight had long been predicted to be its doom. The neighborhood was patterned to follow the same exodus as those from Bed-Sty, Williamsburg and Bushwick to Nassau County particularly, Levittown and Suffolk County, towns like Smithtown and Commack.
For whatever reasons, probably the town’s continued ability to provide affordable housing coupled with somewhat convenient public transportation to Manhattan, the wave of white flight stopped at the Bushwick – Ridgewood borderline. Instead of white flight, many of the older German and Italian residents remained in their homes and apartments allowing Ridgewood’s demographics to gradually diversify and remain a vibrant blue collar community.
The neighborhood ducked that bullet but the fires of the 1970s brought a new crisis. Not only was The Bronx burning; so was Bed-Sty and Bushwick. And Bushwick burned badly. Ridgewood historically shared the same postal codes with Bushwick, 27 and 37 that became zip codes, 11227 and 11237. For whatever reason the USPS never chose to assign Ridgewood a Queens code. With the wave of arson came red-lining where insurance companies would not cover the peril of fire in the affected postal codes and Ridgewood landlords suffered. Finally, in 1979, the community was assigned a Queens zip code, 11385.
Be careful what you wish for. The myth of a Brooklyn Ridgewood ceased to exist, but the hipsters and their ilk are mortified to be moving into un-trendy Queens. Fine, Astoria works, but that’s because it’s off on its own. So too Long Island City. But Ridgewood, God forbid. It’s merely a geographic extension of Bushwick. These invaders despise having crossed this line and have floated alternative monikers like, “Quooklyn” and “Ridgewick” both of which reek of the lack of manners and sense of history by these barbarians.
Still, the rabble seems unstoppable. Mr. Detrick noted: “Cafes with vegan muffins, yoga studios and destination pizzerias have (naturally) sprouted. Bars with names like Milo’s Yard and Bierleichen are slated to open. Guitar cases, tote bags and shearling coats are increasingly frequent accessories on pedestrians.”
It gets worse; “…a hipster crowd in a warehouse on Decatur Street, a crowd that included Bruce Willis’ daughter, Scout.” “A performance in front of a crowd of 20-somethings with stonewashed jeans and cans of Genesee beer.” Worse yet: “the younger crowd in the bar up front (at Gottscheer Hall), where artsy types in their 20s and 30s, wearing hoodies and black-frame glasses, huddled over mugs of Spaten.”
Gottscheer Hall where rumor has it that they continued to celebrate You Know Who’s birthday! Alles verloren, all is lost!
But Mr. Detrick’s most telling point came in the following observation: “Crystal River Williams, a co-founder of Norma’s, a café on Catalpa Avenue that serves baked goods and bread pudding to freelancers on Mac Books, chess-playing Europeans and customers from the Muslim barber next door…compared Ridgewood to Park Slope, ‘a sleepy Brooklyn neighborhood of families and baby strollers.”
Das neighborhood es kaput!
Hi John, Loved this post! Shared it with my John who grew up in Ridgewood. I lived there for a few years during college. Have a great day, Mary Ann