Taken From The New York Daily News
1. The M Train
The Fresh Pond Road M subway stop at 62nd St. sits down a
dead-end residential street with wooden homes, different-color front doors and American flags.
Someone told me artists recently moved to Ridgewood for the low rents. One-bedrooms in the area go for about $1,150 per month. The first person I see lugs a folk art project with magazine covers pasted to a wooden plank.
"I moved out here eight months ago," says Michael Stancia, a soon-to-be art major at Manhattan Community College in Tribeca. "This is cheaper than Williamsburg. Not a ton to do yet. I don't hang out here much."
2. The Local Bar
For those seeking a congenial hangout, Casey Jones Saloon is an ideal local bar. Around the corner on 68th Ave., Casey Jones draws the old-school Ridgewood crowd, men and women born in the neighbor-hood. They're Irish and Italians whose grand-parents settled here in the 1920s and '30s.
Wally Murray has been tending bar here since 1971. One of his regulars, Patrick Gro-gan, thinks of the neighborhood and smiles.
"The sidewalks are clean, and we don't have any rats," says Grogan. "People here have civic pride. We take care of each other and the streets."
3. The Housing Stock
Brownstones, townhouses and attached brick homes dominate this section of Ridgewood east of Fresh Pond Road. Developers in the early 20th century built block by block, explaining the variety of residences. Lillian Matej, a broker with First Option Realty Group, sold a five-bedroom, two-bath, two-family townhouse for $585,000. It was on the market for just four months.
"These brownstones make Ridgewood un-like anywhere else in Queens," says Matej, whose family has been selling real estate in the area for 28 years. "Young kids looking for inexpensive rents and locals who know the neighborhood's potential are driving the current market. We're getting few people from Manhattan."
Ridgewood has many good buys. A fire-damaged, four-bedroom single-family raised ranch that looks like an old country store is priced at $289,000. It's just outside an area slated to be a New York City landmark.
Accross the street from a turn-of-the-century YMCA reported being turned into a gym and a small church with manicured grounds, the 104th Precinct might be the city's most picturesque police building. This entire corner looks like May-berry, U.S.A., with kids riding bikes, flower gardens and Federal-style buildings. Statistics show a slight rise in crime for 2008, which some say is due to population growth.
Public School 88 has an excellent computer lab. A recent influx of Polish and Latin American children has added diversity to the area.
5. The Streets
Farther down Catalpa Ave., the neighborhood takes on a heavy international influence. "The area is starting to gentrify," says Thomas A. Donovan, the manag¬ing partner covering Ridgewood for commercial real estate giant Massey Knakal. "When you see eight or nine different nationalities running around an area, that's proof a neighborhood works."
A small boutique, Elvi's Clothing, sells big-name brands for very low prices. Architects and dentists share street-corner home offices. An Italian woman asRs if a visitor is lost. Seven of 15 names on a building's list have Polish spellings. Apartment houses with six units sell for $750,000. Rents are about $1,350 for a two-bedroom apartment.
6. Polish Pride
I The Polish influence stays strong in Ridgewood. Morscher's Pork Store sells almost every kind of pork known to man. Down the street, St. Matthew's Roman Catholic Church serves the local Polish community, most of whom can no longer afford Greenpoint.
Gabriel Dabeti owns Antica, a new restaurant offering upscale Polish cuisine, on Woodward Ave. "It's . very much like living in Europe," says Dabeti. "People take long walks. Manhattan is almost finished as a place to live. Out here, in a small neighborhood, you can have a better life. I went fishing this morning at Howard Beach. It took 10 minutes to get there. It's just easier to live well here."
7. Stoop Life
On a hot summer Saturday, four out of 10 stoops are crowded with families and friends. Here Jonathan Caban gets his hair braided by Amber Mendez while joking around with neighbor George Turcin
Children play catch on the sidewalks as the Q58 bus rolls by, heading to big-box retailers like Toys "R" Us and Kmart in Glendale. An elderly gentleman on an oxygen machine sits quietly in the shade.
Near Ondernonk Ave., a Department of Transportation worker checks manholes. "This street is in pretty good condition," she says. As you get closer to Myrtle Ave., the crowd picks up and brownstones go down in price to the low-$500,000 range. Rents get less, too, with two bedrooms costing $1,100.
Ridgewood's L train stop and main transportation I hub, Myrtle Ave. and Wyckoff U Ave., is just a 35-minute ride to Manhattan. Dollar stores, Timberland shops and fresh produce stands draw shoppers to this central Ridgewood shopping district. Latino in flavor, the area pops with salsa music and ice cream trucks while families take shopping breaks.
The jewel of the real estate offerings is a 1915 vaudeville theater that was operational until two years ago. Priced at $2.25 million, the 53,000-square-foot facility is not protected by landmark, meaning that a new buyer can turn it into a hotel, shopping arcade, loft condominiums or an office plaza. Donovan of Massey Knakal has the listing