The earliest recorded inhabitants of the Ridgewood area were Native Americans of the Mespachtes Tribe. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Dutch settlers arrived and tilled the land as farmers. Eventually, in the early eighteenth century, English settlers named the area Ridgewood for its dense wooded geography. The population began to swell as transportation to and from Brooklyn improved, namely with the elevated transit lines in 1879 and with trolley lines built along Myrtle and Wyckoff Avenues in 1881. By this time the population was largely a German middle class which supported many local businesses, including several large breweries. The remaining farmlands were acquired by Gustav Mathews in 1906 who turned them into residential areas named the “Mathews Flats”, a large complex of over 800 six-family brick row houses.
After World War II came a wave of immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe, in particular from Poland and the former Yugoslavia. The latest census also reveals a growing overall population largely due to an increase of the local Hispanic population.
By the time of Ridgewood’s change from a rural to an urban area and, ironically, the same year as the grand opening of the large 42nd Street library in Manhattan, the Ridgewood Library was opened in 1911. At the time only a homely storefront with 2,000 books and no children’s room, it blossomed in only 18 years into a block long building used by residents ever since. Today the library is being expanded by a major renovation to provide local residents with more space for improved customer service.
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately one of two American men and one of three American women will have some type of cancer at some point during their lifetime. Queens Library HealthLink seeks to increase access to cancer screening and cancer treatment among medically underserved communities in Queens. Queens Library HealthLink is a partnership between Queens Library, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Queens Cancer Center of Queens Hospital and the American Cancer Society.