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Topics in Ridgewood History
Explore some of Ridgewood's History Online

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Birth of Ridgewood

In celebration of Ridgewood’s 125th anniversary, local historians Peggy Norris and Joe Suplicki provided a slide lecture on the critical years between 1865 and 1876. Using documents, maps, and historic panoramic photos, Norris and Suplicki illustrate Ridgewood’s transformation from farm to suburb.  We welcome you to watch this video of their presentation.  If you have any questions, please feel fee to contact Local History Librarian Sarah Kiefer at 201-670-5600 x135 or skiefer@ridgewoodlibrary.org

Click here for Part I.

Click here for Part II.

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Ridgewood COVID-19 Stories

The Bolger Heritage Center collected materials which documented the response of our community to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.  Read, watch and view how the Village reacted to this pandemic, and came together as a community.  If you would like to contribute your story, please click here.

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Armistice Day, 1931

On November 8, 1931, Ridgewood observed Armistice Day by dedicating trees to the Ridgewood men who lost their lives in World War I, planted George Washington memorial trees, and named Graydon Park.

Victory Bazaar, 1919

July 4, 1919 Ridgewood Independence Day committee planned the Victory Bazaar to raise money for the War effort.  The event included booths, games, a French Village and entertainers.

World War Medal

Clarence Tourse, Sr. received an honorary medal from the people of the Village of Ridgewood for his service in the Army during the Great War (World War I).  In 2014 the medal was found in the sands of New Mexico.

Sycamore Tree at Graydon

In early 2018 the Sycamore Tree at Graydon had to be taken down due to an illness.  It stood for decades on its own island at the corner of Linwood and North Maple Avenue and was a landmark to the Village.  The tree has been at Graydon prior to the pool being built in 1926, and many memories were made at the site.  If you have any images of the tree please share them by email heritagecenter@ridgewoodlibrary.org.

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A Brief History of Ridgewood

Ridgewood's history stretches back to 1698 when this area was a wilderness.  Follow the transformation from wilderness to agriculture to commuter suburb.

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Ridgewood Neighborhoods

Ridgewood has many neighborhoods reflecting its long history.

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Storms in Ridgewood

In the last 20 years Ridgewood has survived three major storms:  Hurrican Floyd, Hurricane Irene, and Superstorm Sandy. 

The Opera House, 1893-1932

Ridgewood's Opera House started as a municipal building and became an entertainment venue and a meeting place, as well as the YMCA.

Shade Tree Commission

Ridgewood's Shade Tree Commission was formed in 1909 to plant trees in the rapidly growing Village.  We've had a love-hate affair with trees ever since.

Civil War Envelops

During the Civil War patriotic envelopes were printed with symbols and cartoons.  Many were never used, but were collected as souvenirs.

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A Walking Tour of Ridgewood's Historic Downtown

In 2009, The Ridgewood New Jersey Historic Preservation Commission created a "walking tour" of Ridgewood's downtown.  This tour included a booklet which included historical descriptions of each spot on the walk.  Information on the origins of the building, the architectural style along with the builders/owners can be found within the booklet.  Click here for the booklet.  Below you can watch the video featuring Architectural Historian Art Wrubel and Village Historian Joe Suplicki.

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Varian Fry,

Holocaust Hero

Varian Fry (1907-1967) grew up in Ridgewood.  He went to Marseilles, France in 1940 and was responsible for establishing a network that rescued over 2,000 Jews, dissidents, and artists trapped in France.

Cemeteries

Ridgewood is home to two cemeteries--the Churchyard Burying Ground next to the Old Paramus Reformed Church and Valleau Cemetery across the street.  The monuments reflect an incredible variety of styles.

Oral History Excerpts, 1994 & 2002

Excerpts from transcriptions of oral histories with Ridgewood residents.

Letters from a Soldier

... Becker sent letters home from the ...front in World War II.  Later he moved to Ridgewood and raised a family here.  His letters were used to create a beautiful book where you can read about the life of a soldier.