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Testing Your Ridgewood Knowledge

Quiz: How much do you know about the town you live in?

It's the end of the school year and for many Ridgewood students this means final exams. Just in case you're feeling left out, I have written an exam especially for you. Before you grumble, "Exam? What lunatic wrote this article?" Let me say that this is not actually a test but more of a trivia quiz.

There are no grades, so what have you got to lose? Ridgewood students wish they had it so easy. Enjoy!

Question #1:

Who was Van Dien Avenue named after?

Answer #1:

Van Dien Avenue was named for Garrett Van Dien,  the second postmaster in Ridgewood.

John Street was named for a Van Dien too. A different Van Dien—John B. Van Dien who built the opera house that was located on the site of what is now the bus station parking lot.

There were many Van Diens and many generations of Van Dien's in Ridgewood. 

Question #2:

Where was the original library located and what was it called?

Answer #2:

The first village owned library was the George L. Pease Memorial Library located on the Westside of Ridgewood at 30 Garber Square. It opened in 1923 and was used as a library until 1998.

The Ridgewood Public Library opened in 1962, so for many years Ridgewood had two libraries. In 1998 the Ridgewood Library was renovated and expanded. 

Today, the George L. Pease Memorial Library building is largely office space. Based on an agreement between the Bolger Foundation and the village, the current library receives most of the income generated from the leasing of the former library building.

Question #3:

In what part of Ridgewood was there talk of building an airport?

Answer #3:

In 1945, a number of residents wanted to build an airport in The Lawns section of Ridgewood. Although the airport was never built, in the late 1940s there was an airpark built that served as a private airfield for three or four airplanes. Not much information is known about this airfield except that it was not open to the public, and obviously it is not there today.

Question #4:

What is a "plake"?

Answer #4:

Graydon pool is sometimes referred to as a plake because it is a combination of pool and lake.

Question #5:

What building contains a spacious ballroom with a stage, brass chandeliers, and graceful 25-foot ceilings?

Answer #5:

The Ridgewood Women's Club

Question #6:

The statue of the mailman outside of the Ridgewood Post Office has the mail carrier holding a letter. Where is the letter from?

Answer #6:

The return address shows that the letter came from the Internal Revenue Service in Atlanta, GA.

Oddly enough, the letter is not sent to a Ridgewood resident but is sent to Samuel Johnson Jr. in Princeton, NJ.

Question #7:

What was Ridgewood called before it was called Ridgewood?

Answer #7:

Ridgewood's official first name was Franklin Township. In 1876 the town name was changed to Ridgewood Township. Then in 1894 the town was called The Village of Ridgewood. (Most residents think that Ridgewood was called Godwinville. This is not true.)

Question #8:

Why is the Van Dyk's spelled different ways in different places? (It's spelled without an "e" at the end for Van Dyk's Ice Cream and Van Dyk Manor, but the street name is spelled with an with an "e" at the end.)

Answer #8:

The answer is not known for sure, but historians suggest that when immigrants came to Ridgewood they spelled words and names inconsistently because they were unfamiliar with the English language.

Question #9: 

In what year was the first branch of the Boy Scouts organized in Ridgewood?

Answer #9:

1910.  The Boy Scouts met at the Ridgewood YMCA. As membership increased it needed a larger space so in 1916 it moved its meetings to the basement of the reformed church.

Question #10:

Who was one of the first known doctors in Ridgewood?

Answer #10:

William Vroom was a doctor who came to Ridgewood in the late in the late 1880s. He had an office on Ridgewood Avenue, but he also made house calls. Of course, it was much cheaper to visit him in his office, 75 cents for an office visit but as much as $1 for a house call.

Learning More About Ridgewood History:

At the Ridgewood Library you might:

  • Look through the collection of Ridgewood history books that are located behind the reference desk.
  • Buy A Walk Through Historical Ridgewood a DVD created by local historians Peggy Norris, Joe Suplicki, Art Wrubel, and Bill Carbone. It is an extremely well done work and sells for only $10.00. 
  • The newly renovated Local History & Genealogy Center at the Ridgewood Library is scheduled to open in early fall. This center will house a large archive of primary source material about Ridgewood.  (Saturday, June 26 @ 10:00 a.m., Slide show and lecture by Ann Marie Snyder, VP of the Fourth of July Committee.)  Memorabilia from the historical collections of the Committee will be on display.

At the Ridgewood Historical Society you might:

  • Visit the permanent collection, housed in the Schoolhouse Museum. Hours are Thursdays and Saturdays from 1 to 3 p.m. and Sundays from 2:00 to 4 p.m.
  • Go to the society's website and read about current special activities and events. For example, a special exhibit, Road to Revolution: Paramus Valley in the 18th Century, runs through July 25, 2010.
  • Book a tour of the Schoolhouse Museum for your group. (Scouts, Church and Synagogue groups, birthday parties, etc).

"Write Away" is a biweekly column musing on life in Ridgewood by resident Karen Caine.

Dominick Nizza June 20, 2010 at 12:55 PM
Thanks Karen Caine... for that little walk through the Village past eras . Old timers, like myself remember a lot of them. We need a refresher course now and then.
Sports Guy June 21, 2010 at 01:14 PM
A walk thru the Village in 1948 would reveal that Ridgewood didn't even have a hospital, a Hawes school, A Sommerville school, a High School Annex ... oh, things haven't changed much... the political fights still going on.
Dominick Nizza June 21, 2010 at 01:22 PM
We discovered the "The Baby Boomers" are running things now (heaven help us), and Valley will have more room to accommodate the usual political mal/contents.... soon.
Dominick Nizza June 22, 2010 at 11:47 AM
Ridgewood once had its own "Opera House" on the West Side of town near the Railroad Station, does anyone have a photo and perhaps, an old program to share with us?

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