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RIDGEWOOD

Transportation: M train to Seneca Avenue, or L train to DeKalb Avenue


It's easy to forget how many Germans there used to be in NYC, largely because there's so few of them there anymore. Once upon a time, however, the city teemed with breweries and beer gartens of Teutonic origin. One of the few places left to testify to this fact is Ridgewood, a neighborhood which straddles the invisible Brooklyn/Queens border east of Newtown Creek. The once prevalant German presence is a shadow of its former self, but it is the closest thing New York has to an ethnic German neighborhood. Even today, those in the neighborhood born in Germany (let alone those descended from immigrants) numbers close to 30,000.

Ridgewood, though largely in Queens, is closer to Brooklyn in relative age and architecture. Its row houses and railroad flats are a far cry from the lawns and detached houses of Queens. But like Queens, it shares a lot of its space with cemetaries - Linden Hill and Cypress Hill are just two examples. The shopping streets contain small family-owned stores and coffee shops - once a given in New York, now a rarity.

The most obvious evidence of its heritage is Rudy's Bake Shop at 972 Seneca Avenue. Near the intersection of Myrtle Avenue, it sells impossibly rich German pastries. The store looks pretty much the same as it has for the last 50 years or so. This author recommends anything they have unconditionally. There is not a bad specimen of food in the house.

Ridgewood is roughly bordered by Myrtle Avenue, the main shopping drag, in the south and Metropolitan Avenue in the north. Where it ends elsewhere is anyone's guess. What else is anyone's guess is the strange character it has maintained considering where it is situated. Not far from Ridgewood is both Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant, two largely African-American and unfortunately poverty stricken areas. Ridgewood, however, while getting a recent influx of Hispanic and Eastern-European residents, has remarkably maintained the working-class German veneer it has held for so long.

The German presence keeps itself quiet, as it has for quite some time. The visitor is advised to peruse mailboxes and store names to check for the neighborhood within.


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