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So you’re thinking about moving to Ridgewood?
There’s a lot to love about Bushwick’s lower-profile neighbor. There’s a lot of misconceptions too, though, and plenty of things to think about. Here’s a list of 15 things for you to ponder — a mix of fun facts, popular opinion, and relevant data points — before taking the plunge.
Ridgewood is in Queens
Ridgewood is not in Brooklyn. Ridgewood is in Queens. Ridgewood is proud to be in Queens.
If you’re thinking about moving to Ridgewood, you should be okay with that — and if you’re not okay with it and move here anyway, you’ll end up okay with it! Queens has a way of winning people over.
I mention this because every time Ridgewood starts to pick up a little interest, people are in a rush to borough-wash the Queens away. Recent attempted rebrandings included “Quooklyn” and “Ridgewick.” Mercifully, neither stuck and we’d like to keep it that way.
Ridgewood is surprisingly diverse.
Part of the reason that Ridgewooders are so proud to live in Queens is its diversity. Queens is the single most diverse county in the United States (we speak 130+ languages!), and that diversity plays out in miniature in Ridgewood.
Aside from Caucasian Americans, the two largest demographics are Hispanic/Latinx on the western Bushwick-bordering side and Polish on the eastern side. Aside from these three groups, there are thriving Egyptian, Asian, and African American enclaves.
Our main subway connection is the M train and it works great. Kind of.
I’ve clocked a solid number of years commuting from Ridgewood to Manhattan via the M train, the better part of a decade. And in that time, over the course of +7,000 individual one-way trips, I’ve experienced maybe 10 serious service interruptions. The M train simply runs really well.
Or it did, that is, until July 1, 2017.
Everybody has heard about the impending L train shutdown to repair the Hurricane Sandy-damaged Canarsie Tunnel. What far fewer people know is that in order to prepare for that shutdown, the MTA had to shut down the M train, in two different sections, for critical repairs.
Phase 1 went from July 1-Aug. 31. The final stretch of the M line, from Myrtle-Broadway in Bushwick to Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village, was closed for repairs to the Fresh Pond Bridge, which carries the trains over an industrial railyard. Three shuttle bus routes were operated during this shutdown.
Phase 2 started on Sept. 1 and continues to the day, with completion currently scheduled for April 30 of this year. Now, a stretch of rail between Myrtle-Wyckoff on the Bushwick-Ridgewood border and Myrtle-Broadway is closed for rail replacement. A train shuttle runs from Metropolitan Avenue to Myrtle-Wyckoff, and a shuttle bus runs from there to Myrtle-Broadway. Riders can either transfer to an L at Myrtle-Wyckoff or use the bus and pick the Manhattan-bound M up again at Myrtle-Broadway.
So… things are currently kind of a shit show.
What will happen when the M train resumes full service later this year and the L train takes its turn? It’s impossible to know, but I’m holding out hope the that M returns to its steady, faithful, reliable service.
Speaking of transportation options…
You’ll probably be riding a lot of buses.
And not necessarily because of the M and L train shutdowns.
It’s not a secret to anybody that NYC’s subway system is Manhattan-centric. The tiny island is the hub for all 22 spokes of the rail service wheel (except for the G train and its extremely leisurely schedule). That means if you’re going anywhere in Queens or Brooklyn that doesn’t just happen to be on the same subway line as you, you’re going to be taking a bus.
And honestly, that’s great. The MTA runs a tremendously robust network of bus routes. There are about 11 routes that run through Ridgewood: B13, B20, B38, B52, B57, Q38, Q39, Q54, Q55, Q58, and Q67. Between these buses, and the buses that you can connect to from them, pretty much the whole of Queens and Brooklyn are open to you for exploring in a (subjectively) reasonable amount of time.
It just takes a little bit of planning ahead and a heavy reliance on Bus Time.
There are more homeowners living in Ridgewood than there are in Bushwick.
In Bushwick, only about 15 percent of residential structures are owned by homeowners — people or families that both own and live in the property, as opposed to off-site landlords. In Ridgewood, that number jumps to 24 percent.
This results in a neighborhood with a much more … neighborhood feeling. Ridgewood’s vibe is a little quieter, almost-but-not-quite suburban. With less rentable units, there’s less renter turnover so, whether you like it or not, you’re going to get to know your neighbors better.
When people were priced out of Williamsburg, they packed up and moved to Bushwick. Now that people are starting to get priced out of Bushwick, they’re eyeing Ridgewood.
Rent is less expensive here than in Bushwick — kind of.
It’s true that, overall, rents are a little more reasonable here in Ridgewood than they are in Bushwick, though exactly how much more reasonable depends on who you ask.
According to RentHop’s NYC Subway Rent Map, median rents for a one-bedroom apartment range from $1,900 at Fresh Pond Road, the last M train spot before Middle Village, and $2,100 at Seneca Avenue, the first stop in Ridgewood.
On the other hand, if you ask Trulia, they’ll tell you that Ridgewood’s median rent is $2,200, compared to the $2,000 it lists for Bushwick. It’s important to note that Trulia’s numbers include apartments of all sizes.
But it won’t be that way for long!
Rents are rising here, and they’re rising quickly! This is most likely a function of that Bushwick spillover I mentioned — landlords know what’s going on.
RentHop has recorded astronomical year-over-year rental increases for Ridgewood one-bedroom apartments. 2017’s rental costs are, so far, as much as 18 percent higher than they were in 2016. Recorded for the area around the Fresh Pond Road M station, these are among the highest rental increases in both Bushwick and Ridgewood.
Maybe you should consider skipping over Ridgewood and moving straight to Cypress Hills instead?
Renting in Ridgewood might only be a little less expensive, but buying here could be a lot less expensive.
If you’re one of the lucky few who are in a financial situation strong enough that purchasing a home is a plausibility, as opposed to a pipedream, Ridgewood may be the place for you. While rents here are only marginally lower than those in Bushwick, and rising fast, home prices are notably lower.
According to Trulia, median home listing prices vary wildly on an almost block-by-block basis, starting as low as $395,000 in the far southeast, near the borders with Bed-Stuy and Cypress Hills, and as high as $1.1 million in the Jefferson Street area. Overall median listing price for the neighborhood is $857,500, hardly chump change.
Ridgewood, by contrast, has a smaller range of listing prices and the neighborhood-wide median sits at $627,500, about 27 percent less expensive. Trulia’s data on actual sales prices, as opposed to listed asking prices, is more scattered but generally trends slightly lower.
Ridgewood is super historic.
As one of the United States’ oldest cities, all of New York City is historic. Progress has an unfortunate habit of steamrolling historically important sites but, if you know where to look, you can find them everywhere. Including, especially, in Ridgewood.
Ridgewood is home to a staggering 10 National Historic Districts, all listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. They include the Central Ridgewood Historic District, home of the distinctive tan brick two-story row houses that define the neighborhood.
You’ll also find three NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission Landmark Districts; the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House which, originally built in 1661, is the oldest surviving stone-built Dutch Colonial house in New York City; the historic Ridgewood Theater Building; and the Evergreens Cemetery, to name just a few notable landmarks.
Ridgewood has ties to the mob.
Ridgewood is a very safe neighborhood, that doesn’t mean we haven’t seen our fair share of shady goings-on.
In the ‘90s, Caffe Giannini on Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood was a notorious mob clubhouse and front, not to mention running an illegal gambling ring out of its back rooms. With deep ties to the Bonnano crime family — the building’s owner at the time was allegedly a soldier for the family and Carmine Galante’s personal body guard — this isn’t much of a surprise.
Though Caffe Giannini was closed down before the turn of the new millennium (it’s now a hair salon), there are a couple of spots scattered around the block that are reputed to draw a particular mobbish clientele.
But don’t let that make you think Ridgewood isn’t safe today.
It’s a little bit fun, in a slightly maudlin way, to say “Hey, Ridgewood used to be crawling with the mob!” But that was 20 to 25 years ago, and crime-wise Ridgewood is a lot different than it was a quarter of a century ago.
Along with Glendale, Maspeth, and Middle Village, Ridgewood is served by the NYPD’s 104th precinct. In 1990, according to the precinct’s most recently published CompStat report, there were 11 reported incidences of murder, 21 of rape, 1,307 of robbery, 279 of felony assault, 2,562 of burglary, 884 of grand larceny, and 4,443 of grand larceny auto.
Comparing these 1990 numbers to 2017’s numbers shows across the board double-digit decreases: the smallest is, unfortunately, rape, which only decreased 23.8 percent; the largest decrease was grand larceny auto, with a 96.6% decrease, followed closely by burglary’s 89.9 percent decrease.
NYC.gov’s Crime Map, which draws heavily from reported CompStat numbers, cites 0.6463 crimes per 1,000 residents in November 2017, the last full month for which they offer statistics.
As ever when living in a major metropolis, use your common sense and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Ridgewood is one of few NYC neighborhoods to slant Republican.
New York City is a reliably Democratic area — the last time the city voted for a Republican in a statewide or presidential election was in 1924, when Calvin Coolidge ran for president.
Yet it is not a solid wall of blue. Staten Island famously leans hard in favor of Republicans, as do areas of South Brooklyn. Another notoriously red area of the city is City Council District 30 which, you guessed it, includes Ridgewood. While Ridgewood by and large voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, Council District neighbors Maspeth and Middle village decidedly did not.
Closer to home, last November’s municipal election saw something of an upset — two-term incumbent Elizabeth Crowley, a democrat, was unseated by challenger Robert Holden on the Republican ticket by an extremely narrow margin of only about 100 votes. For context, Crowley was both the first woman and the first Democrat to hold District 30.
Today, Ridgewood is located in one of only four, out of 51, city council districts held by a Republican. While this has minimal, if any, impact on daily life, it is something that I could see being a sticking point for some potential new residents.
In Queens, addresses go by neighborhood.
If you live in the boroughs of Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, or Staten Island, your address is the borough itself. For example, Bushwick addresses are written as “Brooklyn, NY, 11206” or “Brooklyn, NY, 11237”. In Queens, we do things a little differently: We go by neighborhood.
If you move to Ridgewood, your address will be “Ridgewood, NY, 11385”. But it could also be “Flushing, NY, 11385,” as is the preference of GPS devices and map apps everywhere. Why is that? Nobody knows for sure how this quirk developed — not with citable evidence, anyway — but there’s a pretty strong prevailing theory and it dates back to the 19th century.
When New York City consolidated in 1898, the boroughs had largely urbanized and developed individual identities. Queens, though, was the exception, at the time being largely rural and composed of five townships, Far Rockaway, Floral Park (now mostly Nassau County), Flushing, Jamaica, and Long Island City, each of which in turn was composed of smaller, unincorporated towns and villages.
As the Post Office expanded and adapted its practices, it recognized each of these townships individually, instead of Queens as a whole. That practice seems to have trickled down to individual neighborhoods. Don’t worry, though — no matter what you put down, Ridgewood, Queens, or even New York City, as long as your street address and zip code are correct, your mail will find you safely.
Also, Queens addresses have a hyphen in the street number. Who knows why.
Ridgewood is not a nightlife hot spot.
There are drags in Williamsburg and Bushwick that are bumping, jam-packed with people all day and all night. A lot of the time its well-earned popularity, with these neighborhoods offering a lot of great after-hours hot spots and activities.
Ridgewood isn’t really like that.
Ridgewood is, as mentioned previously, much more of a neighborhood kind of neighborhood. Nightlife isn’t very high on our collective priority list. Even the mainest of main drags in Ridgewood quiet down relatively early.
If “mere steps away from a myriad of nightlife opportunities” is high on your apartment hunting must-have list, Ridgewood might not be the best bet for you.
Ridgewood definitely isn’t boring.
There might be a dearth of avant-garde freeform dance performances, swanky popup restaurants, and high-profile dance bars, but that doesn’t mean Ridgewood doesn’t like to have a good time.
For one thing, we like to eat. Ridgewood is littered with excellent eateries. To take Fresh Pond Road, the strip I’m most familiar with, as an example: within just a handful of blocks you’ll find city staples like pizzerias (yes, plural) and a Dunkin Donuts, as well as Turkish Mediterranean, no-frills Greek, Egyptian, Polish, Polish baked goods, Mexican, a number of Halal carts, Indian, Himalayan momos — *takes a deep breath* — Italian, Italian baked goods, specialty meats, fresh produce markets, a fish market, more than a few coffee shops, and Japanese noodles.
I’m sure I’ve missed some. Take this and multiply it by numerous high-traffic main drags, each with their own unique flavors, and you’re as spoiled for choice here as you are anywhere else in the city.
There are also bars aplenty for the drinker of any taste or style (one of which claims to have the largest beer selection in Queens), locally-owned shops, street and craft fairs, and so much more.
We might not stay out until 4 in the morning, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to enjoy ourselves.
Cover image courtesy of saippolito