Photo by Christina Wilkinson
In 1928, much of Queens was still largely unpopulated and unbuilt-upon. Ridgewood, however, was an exception to the rule, due to its proximity to Brooklyn, and real estate developers hoped to capitalize on the cachet of the neighborhood. By then, Ridgewood was dominated by attached brick and brownstone houses, as well as blocks of handsome, yellow-bricked apartments constructed by developer Gustave X. Mathews. He built from materials created in the Staten Island kilns of Balthazar Kreischer.
In that year, the developers Realty Associates purchased 70 acres in a neighborhood then labeled as “North Ridgewood” but now a part of northern Maspeth roughly defined by Maurice Avenue, 64th Street, Grand Avenue and 74th Street. Builder John Aylmer set to work constructing two and six-family homes in the newly-named Ridgewood Plateau, so named for its location atop one of Queens’ higher hills.
To identify the development, Realty Associates placed brick posts emblazoned with the words “Ridgewood Plateau” carved into the concrete, as well as a quartet of iron arches at 65th Place, Maurice Avenue and Jay Avenue, marking the northern and southern ends of the development. The words “Ridgewood Plateau” were painted in gold leaf on a plaque attached to the iron arches’ apices.
Over time, the iron arches became rusted and the gold leaf was worn off. Occasionally, an iron arch would be painted, staving off further rust, but no real ongoing maintenance would be performed until just recently when the Juniper Park Civic Association, the Newtown Historical Society, Maspeth Federal Savings, the Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together and Maspeth’s O’Neill’s Restaurant arranged for the restoration of the arches by Woodside artisan Larry Madine. The first fruits of the restoration work were recently revealed at Jay Avenue.
As part of the 1928 development, 65th Place was paved and graded from Roosevelt to Grand Avenues. Along with 69th Street, once called Fisk Avenue, 65th Place provides a direct vehicular route from Woodside to what was once Ridgewood Plateau.
The brickwork on the arches at Jay Avenue preserve 65th Place’s former name, Hyatt Avenue.