Citizens semi-centennial association, Ridgewood.

Ridgewood, Bergan County, New Jersey, past and present online

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since he entered its service on May 1, 1870, until he retired from busi-
ness on January 1, 1911, Avith only three intervals of three Avinter
months each Avhile in the West and in Ncav York City. C. M. Keyser
has also been a continuous commuter since 1880, Avhile P. W. Van Dien,
Avho died in 1916, commuted since 1878, AAdth the exception of tAvo years.

There has existed betAveen the officials of the Erie Railroad and the
Village of RidgCAVood during the last tAventy years an almost continual
agitation over crossing eliminations. Various schemes Avere presented
and discussed at different times for the elimination of the crossings at
GodAvin and Ridgewood Aa^cuucs, but the question of contingent dam-
ages and the unsightliness of the proposed eliminations have ahvays
defeated the plans.

In 1903 an undercrossing at East Franklin AA-enue along the lines
of. but less elaborate than, the existing undercrossing Avas proposed
Ijut met Avith no favor. In 1909 an elimination at RidgCAVood and
GodAvin Avenues Avas formally agreed to by the railroad company but
no time was set. As the elimination was merely part of a general scheme
for a loAv grade freight line from the »Tersey Meadows to Suffern, AAdiich
involved an immense expenditure and Avould elevate the tracks through



Ridgewood, it was never carried out. In 1915, however, as the result
of negotiations between Village Commissioners D. A. Garber, G. U.
White, Frederick Pfeiffer and F. D. Underwood, President of the Erie
Railroad, and G. N. Orcutt, his assistant, and in accordance with a
verbal understanding between the Village officials and Mr. Underwood,
during a luncheon given by Mr. Orcutt at the Ridgewood Country Club,
that the Village would bear one-half of the cost, a contract was entered
into covering the elimination of the Franklin, Godwin and Ridgewood
Avenues grade crossings and the construction of the present undercross-
ings, a new station and the plaza. The improvements were designed by
W. W. Drinker, Principal Assistant Engineer of the Erie Railroad
Company, and Frank A. Howard, its Engineer of Bridges and Build-
ings, both residents of Ridgewood. The work under their plans, as
approved by the Village Commissioners, has been done without any
material variations although the total estimated cost of $160,000 will
probably be exceeded by $20,000 on account of the increased cost of
labor and material not embraced in main contracts.

In addition to its proportion of the cost, the Erie Railroad has dedi-
cated to the Village of Ridgewood, for street and park purposes, 101.500
square feet of land west of the tracks and north of West Franklin
Avenue, and 8,640 square feet west of the tracks and south of West
Franklin Avenue. The total cost of this land was $43,529. The Rail-
road Company reserved the right, however, to lay two additional tracks
on the westerly side of the present tracks in case traffic should ever
demand it.

The following is of interest in connection with the improvements:

Work started August, 1915.

Undercrossing opened September 1, 1916.

Station opened September 23, 1916.

Pedestrian subway opened November 28, 1916.

Earth Excavation, 56,333 cubic yards.

Concrete curb, 6.244 lineal feet.

Concrete sub-base for pavement, 17,550 square yards.

Catch basins, 22.

Man-holes, 8.

Vitrified tile drain. 3,073 lineal feet.

Concrete sidewalk, 15,243 square feet.

Paving brick, 17,550 square yards.

Ridgewood is the western terminus of the Bergen County Railroad,
acquired by the Erie in 1881, which leaves the main line at Rutherford,
and avoiding the cities of Passaic and Paterson, materially shortens the

The chief advantage to Ridgewood is that it gives four tracks to
Jersey City and betters the train service materially, express trains
making the trip in thirty-four minutes. The schedule time of trains
over the Main Line of the Erie between Ridgewood and Jersey City
is from forty to fifty minutes.

In addition to the Ridgewood Station, the Ho-Ho-Kus Station on
the Main Line of the Erie, two stations in Glen Rock, one on the Bergen
County Branch and the other on the Main Line of the Erie; together
with the Midland Park Station of the New York, Susquehanna & West-



ern Railroad furnishes every section of the Village with frequent and
convenient train service.


Public Service Railway Company

About 1899, an effort was made to secure a trolley franchise between
Ridgewood and Paterson. A citizen of this community, Preston Steven-
son, organized the Paterson & State Line Traction Company, securing
a number of right-of-way coiicessions which eventually became the prop-
erty of the PuIdHc Service Railway. Work was finally commenced on
the line under a franchise granted by the Village Commissioners on
January 24, 191-t, and during the same year cars entered Ridgewood,
the terminus being in the rear of the Osman Building, corner of Frank-
lin Avenue and Wilsey Square.

North Jersey Rapid Transit Company

First surveys were made in 1908 and 1909, and in 1910 the first
car ran from its terminus opposite the grounds of the North Jersey
Country Club to Ho-Ho-Kus. The line was completed through to Suf-
fern in 1911 and is now operated as an interurban road under a steam
charter^ by George Jackson, Jr., General Manager. The principal station
in Ridgewood is at the East Ridgewood Avenue crossing.


Besides the two trolley systems which serve the people more in
reaching neighboring communities than in their local needs, there are
a number of automobile hacks which render day and night service,
under permits granted by the Village Commissioners. In addition to
this service and also under permits issued by the Village Commission-
ers, three automobile bus lines furnish day service to the residents, one
on the east side, the Ridgewood Motor Bus, established in 1914, and two
on the west side, Terhune's Yellow Bus and Jackson's Bus, established
during 1916.



The history of the telephone in Ridgewood is very similar to the
history of the telephone anywhere, or, for that matter, the history of
any new invention. It has received many hard knocks, some of which
have very nearly terminated its career, but these have been counter-
balanced by the appreciation of men who were able to look ahead and
foretell the ultimate usefulness of the telephone and the natural realiza-
tion by the public of the value of the instrument.

Nearly 2,400 telephones are now connected with the Ridgewood Cen-
tral Office of the New York Telephone Company. Of these 1,800 are
in Ridgewood proper, while the remaining 600 are in the various munic-
ipalities immediately adjacent. The outside local wire plant consists
of 7,196.33 miles of wire in cable and 453.27 miles of bare wire. There



are also 209.55 miles of bare wire used for trunk lines. This large plant
satisfies all demands of the people of Ridgewood in the quick, efficient,
polite manner for which the Telephone Company is noted. The sixteen
operators answer and connect about 9,500 local calls daily and over
1,800 calls are made between Ridgewood and other places each day.

The first telephone exchange in this vicinity was opened for business
at Paterson on the afternoon of December 24, 1879, with eleven sub-
scribers. In the spring of 1882 the Erie Railroad opened the Bergen
County short cut and simultaneously a line was extended from the
Paterson switchboard to Wortendyke, branching at Midland Park to
connect Ridgewood. There were two stations on this line, C. A. Wort-
endj'ke's silk mill at Wortendj'ke, and the home of Garrett Van Dien,
then Postmaster of Ridgew^ood. In the fall of 1883 Mr. Van Dien dis-
continued his telephone for the reason that a Paterson undertaker called
him each time a death occurred anywhere in tlie neighborhood.

John F. Cruse came from Batli, Me., to Ridgewood in 1878 and later
opened a grocery store at 252 West Ridgewood Avenue, where F. H.
Adam is now located. Mr. Cruse came to the rescue and took over the
lonely little telephone which had been dropped by Mr. Van Dien because
of his dislike of having sad news forced upon him.

It was during the summer of 1884 that the Acme Band of Worten-
dyke gave a demonstration by playing near the telephone at Wortendyke
to a number of people who gathered at Cruse 's store in Ridgewood and
took turns listening over the telephone to the music nearly two miles
away. There is grave doubt in the minds of many whether the patient
listeners heard the music over the telephone or whetlier the wind was
especially favorable on that particular day.

In 1894 the second telephone w^as installed for H. A. Tice in his drug
store, at the northwest corner of Ridgewood Avenue and Chestnut
Street, where C. A. G. Welti's market now is. From that time on, much
of the telephone history of Ridgewood has revolved about Mr. Tice and
his drug store.

In the summer of 1895 the single telephone in Tice's drug store was
replaced by a 10-line switchboard connecting with fifteen telephones,
and with one trunk line to Paterson. This switchboard then served
Allendale, Waldwick and Ramsey, as well as the present Ridgewood
Central Office District which comprises the Village of Ridgewood, the
Boroughs of Midland Park, Glen Rock and Ho-Ho-Kus, and part of
the townships of Franklin and Midland. Service was rendered on this
board from 7 :00 A.M. to 10 :00 P.M.

By 1896 this equipment was taxed to its limit and had to be again
replaced by a 100-line switchboard. The first operator was Miss L. Van
Emburgh. The first telephone directory covering telephones served by
the Ridgewood Central Office was issued in September, 1897. The fol-
lowing is a list of telephone numbers and subscribers at that time :

Allendale 4 f Ackerman, R. V. (pay sta)

Ridgewood 9 Carrigan, J. F.

Ridgewood 11 Chaplin, Duncan D.

Ridgewood 7 a Cooper & Corsa

Ridgewood .5 Cox, D. C.

Ridgewood 3 a Cruse, John F. (pay sta)



Ridgewood 7 f Daley, James E.

Ridgewood 6 Gardiner, Edmund Le B.

Ridgewood 12 b Haskins, R. T.

Ridgewood 14 b Hengeveld, Jacobus

Ridgewood 3 i Holt Bros. & Co.

Ridgewood 2 f Hopper, John B., Dr.

Hohokus 4 a Keiser, G. J. B. (pay sta)

Wortendyke 14 a Mayhew, F. H. (pay sta)

Ramsevs 4 i Motfatt, P. B. (pay sta)

Ridgewood 25 N. Y. & N. J. Tel. Co., ( pay sta ) "

Ridgewood 3 f Ockford, George M., M.D.

Waldwick 4b Oughton, Geo. (pay sta)

Ridgewood 3 b Post, John H.

Ridgewood 2 b Rouclere House (H. Terhune)

Ridgewood 25 Tice, H. A. (pay sta)

Ridgewood 7 b Vroom, W. L., M.U.

Ridgewood 2 a Wall, Isaac M.

Ridgewood 8 West'rn Union Telegr'ph Co.

Ridgewood 12 a Zabriskie, David D.

On March 21, 1900, Mr. Tice's building and the telephone switch-
board were destroyed by fire, but on the following day, March 22nd,
service was restored by a new switchboard placed in George Winters'
stationery store, on the south side of Ridgewood Avenue near Prospect
Street. After about a year, the switchboard was moved back to the rear
of the drug store in Tice's new building.

On October 10, 1908, the present common batterj" switchboard Avas
put into service. It is now located over Tice's drug store on the third
floor of the building at the corner of Ridgewood Avenue and Chestnut
Street. The steady increase in business has necessitated the complete
rebuilding of the outside distributing plant. In the early days the
telephone wires were carried singly upon cross-arms attached to poles.
As the number of lines increased, the single wires and cross-arms have
been replaced l)y small aerial cables and in the business center of the
town, underground subway cables have been constructed.

Telephone rates in Ridgewood have been reduced from time to
time for the past sixteen years. On January 1, 1900, there were two
schedules applying in Ridgewood; one a message rate schedule of $50
a year for an individual line, $40 a year :^or a two-party line, and $30
a year for a three or more party line. These rates permitted a sub-
scriber the use of 500 messages per annum and applied to both business
and residence. An optional flat rate was also in effect at this time of
$100 a year for individual line business service and $75 a year for
two party line business service. The extension station in connection
with service of this type was $30 a year. The optional flat rate for
residence service was $75 for an individual line and $60 for a two-
party line, with an extension station rate of $20.

In November, 1901, the message rate service was eliminated and flat
rates for business service were reduced to $60, $48, and $36 for indi-
vidual, two-party and four-party lines, respectively, while residence
rates were reduced to $48, $36, and $24 a year for tlie same classes of
service. The business extension station rate Avas reduced from $30 to
$20 per annum and the residence extension station rate from $20 to
$12 per annum.



In May, 1904, the rates were again reduced by the introduction of
business rates of $48, $39 and $30 for individual, two-party and four-
party lines, respectively, and residence rates of $36 and $24 for indi-
vidual and four-party lines, respectively. Other small reductions have
been made from time to time until the present rates were made effective
in 1910, which are $48, $36 and $30 for business individual, two-party
and four-party lines, respectively; and $36, $30 and $24 for residence
individual, two-party and four-party lines, respectively.

The private branch exchange rates have also been reduced in pro-


Prior to 1864 only one telegraph wire was in operation over the
Erie Railroad lines. While this was used by the railroad principally
for operating purposes, commercial telegrams were accepted at their
stations and delivered to the Western Union Company in New York
City if destined to points not on the lines of the Erie Railroad.

During 1864 the Western Union Telegraph Company made arrange-
ments with the Erie Railroad for the construction of a telegraph line
along the railroad right-of-way with an exchange of telegraph traffic.
The Erie Company's stations were connected with the Western Union
Company's wires at that time, the date of Ridgewood's first regular
telegraph service. The first telegraph operator was R. Terhune, who
also acted as agent for the railroad and the telegraph company. Lew
E. Weller of Otisville, N. Y., now holding a position in the Western
Union Telegraph Company's New York operating room, was also one
of the early operators in Ridgewood, serving in that capacity during
1865. Mr. Weller has the distinction of not only having been in con-
tinuous service of the Western Union Telegraph Company for the past
47 years, but also of being the oldest living operator who has served
the Erie Railroad.

On September 28, 1913, the joint arrangement for the operation of
their offices which had existed up to this time between the Erie Rail-
road and the Western Union was discontinued and the latter, in con-
junction with the New York Telephone Company, opened an office in
the Wilsey Building for the handling of their commercial affairs.

Mr. F. W. Milliken, who had been in charge of telegraph matters
in Ridgewood for both the Erie Railroad and the Western Union Tele-
graph Company since March 11, 1896, was placed in charge of the
Telegraph Company's interests and is their present manager. On April
27, 1914, the joint commercial office of the Telephone and Telegraph
Companies was discontinued and since then the telegraph office has been
located in the Osman Building in Wilsey Square.


The Bergen Aqueduct Company

Prior to 1900, the Village of Ridgewood had no system of water
supply either for domestic or municipal purposes. During that year
the Bergen Aqueduct Company was organized by H. W. Corbin of



Jersey Citj^ and the company entered into a contract with the Village
to construct and operate for a period of fifteen years a system of water
works in the Village. A pumping station near the intersection of North
Maple and Harrison Avenues and a storage tank near the intersection
of Sunset and Vallej' View Avenues were constructed and the company
commenced supplying water to the Village about January 1, 1901. The
first standpipe was placed in the vicinity of Sunset Avenue and is still
in service.

In 1903 the company acquired a franchise to extend its pipes from
Ridgewood through Glen Rock and since then it has furnished water
to the two communities.

The Bergen Water Company

From 1900 to 1908 the Aqueduct Company procured its supply of
water from the wells located on the Harrison Avenue plant. During
this period both Ridgewood and Glen Rock had rapidly increased in
population and by 1908 this supply was inadequate to the needs of
these two communities.

The Bergen Water Company was therefore incorporated on August
19, 1908, by the stockholders of the Aqueduct Company and constructed
a pumping station, two storage tanks, and a system of street mains in
the Borough of Midland Park. The sale of water started on August
1, 1909.

At present the Aqueduct Company owns all mains, valves and hy-
drants in Ridgewood and Glen Rock, the pumping station, wells and
land at Harrison Avenue, and the storage tank and land at Sunset
and Valley View Avenues in Ridgewood. The Water Company owns
the system of mains, valves and hydrants, pumping plant, wells, land
and two storage tanks in Midland Park.

While the mains are continuous between Ridgewood and Midland
Park, the ownership is determined by the dividing line between the

The Aqueduct Company, from the time it started until the com-
mencement of operations of the Water Company, pumped its own water
by means of the Harrison Avenue plant, but after the Water Company
began oj^erations, the pumping plant at Harrison Avenue was shut down
and held in reserve for use only in case of breakdown at Midland Park
and during the midsummer months to carry the peak of the load. Water
was then and is now purchased by the Bergen Aqueduct Company from
the Bergen Water Company for distribution in Ridgewood and Glen

The Bergen Water Company also supplies its own consumers in
Midland Park and since 1912 has sold water to the Village of Ho-Ho-
Kus by meter. The pipe system in Ho-Ho-Kus is owned by the Village,
and water rents are collected by the Village.

The supply for Ho-Ho-Kus, when the Harrison Avenue plant is not
running, passes through Ridgew^ood by way of Lake, Godwin, Franklin,
Ridgewood and Maple Avenues.

The contract between the Bergen Aqueduct Company and the village



of Ridgewood having expired by limitation on January 1, 1916, and
the water supply, plants and mains owned and controlled by the Bergen
Aqueduct Company and the Bergen Water Company being insufficient
to meet the future needs of the communities served by these companies,
the question of whether the Village of Ridgewood shall acquire the
properties of the two companies, or enter into a contract with a new
company to be incorporated for the purpose of taking over the prop-
erties with the development, in either case, of a new supply of water,
is now receiving the attention of the Commissioners ajid citizens of
the Village.





The Homes of Ridgewood

ALL of the traditions of Ridgewood and the efforts of its people
combine to make it a residential community or home town. While
it is impossible to describe in a book of this kind the various types
of modern houses to be found within the boundaries of Ridgewood, it
may be stated briefly that, with the exception of a few within the busi-
ness section of the Village, all dwellings are detached and most are
surrounded by ample and well-kept lawns, with space for gardens or
fruit and shade trees.

As will be seen in the foregoing pages, during the 50 years of its
existence, as Ridgewood, the community has developed from an agri-
cultural section into a modern residential village. As in other localities
in Bergen County, the coming of the new type of dwelling has, in the
natural course of things, brought about the gradual elimination of the
houses of the early settlers, and these deserve greater consideration than
has been given in the following general description of those in Ridge-
wood and its vicinity.

Eai'ly Dutch Homes

Bergen County having been settled principally by the Dutch, such
of the early homes as remain today show a distinctive style of archi-
tecture that Avas the result of a slow local development, unmodified by
outside influences until after the Revolution, which, so to speak, made
the colonies more aware of each other's presence.

Prior to that time, the Dutch settlers held slight communion with
their English neighbors and were possessed of a marked individuality.
This is responsible for their type of home, now generally referred to
as Dutch Colonial. The first houses were primitive one or two-room
cottages with rough stone walls and thatched, fiat gable roofs without
the overhanging eaves so noticeable later on. Very few houses of this
type remain today.

These simple cottages continued to be built for some time, always
more carefully and with better workmanship, the stone laid in courses
and roughly faced. The stone, called sandstone, is a local stone, found
on almost any site, ranging from light or dark tan to light brick color
and of a great variety of texture.

As time went on the stonework was more carefully cut, until the
19th Century, when the precise jointing and smooth-tooled finish on the
front was developed.

The walls were laid in a binding material of ordinary clay from the
fields, mixed with straw, and this, while keeping out moisture, was



easily washed out of the stone on the outside of the walls by rain. It
was to prevent this that the houses were later built with wide eaves
overhanging the walls three feet or more.

The end walls were not so easily taken care of and were not, there-
fore, carried up to the peak of the gable. The space between was
framed in wood covered with shingles and sometimes with clapboard,
which left only a short space of stone wall requiring occasional repair.

Once the overhang was adopted, the projecting portion was curved
outward to keep the roofs from coming too close over the windows,
to avoid the clumsy, top-heavy appearance and, possibly, to cast the
rain-water farther out from the walls.

When the original cottage became too small for its owners, a larger
house was built against one end and this became the main portion of
the house, the original building being used as a kitchen wing. Fre-
quently a second wing, more or less like the first, was added on the other
end of the building to acconnnodate a married son, who used the living
quarters of the main house with the rest of the family.

Thus the symmetrical house plan of center and flanking wings was
not at all a formal conception carried out at one time, as we build houses
today, but simply the result of natural growth in the prosperity and
necessities of the family. This gradual evolution developed a type of
house that is distinctive of Bergen County. Generally speaking it may
be described as a low stone dwelling, usually with one wing and some-
times two, a "Dutch" door in the middle with a fanlight above, two
windows at each side, bare of columns or any other architectural orna-
mentation, a simple platform with plain side railings in front of the
door, the walls carrying low unbroken, gambrel roofs with eaves curving
out three feet more or less, the whole giving an impression of strength,
austerity, harmony, and comfort. The wings were lower and covered
with a plain low gable, usually with the curving overhang, while the
chimneys were large and usually of brick brought from Holland or

While the most important remaining groups of these Dutch houses
are to be found in a district beginning about fifteen miles northwest
of lower New York in Bergen County and stretching north along the
valley of the winding Hackensack River from the town of Hackensack
to the New York State Line, in Ridgewood and vicinity, a number still
remain as follows:

Ackerman-Vcni Emhurgli House

Situated at the head of Paramus Road just as it turns to cross the

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Online LibraryCitizens semi-centennial association, RidgewoodRidgewood, Bergan County, New Jersey, past and present → online text (page 14 of 19)