Midwood is a neighborhood in the south-central part of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It is within Community District 14. It is bounded on the north by the Bay Ridge Branch tracks just above Avenue I and by the Brooklyn College campus of the City University of New York, and on the south by Avenue P and Kings Highway. The eastern border consists of parts of Nostrand Avenue, Flatbush Avenue, and Coney Island Avenue; parts of McDonald Avenue and Ocean Parkway mark the western boundary. The neighborhood is served by the New York City Fire Department from a station on East 14th Street housing Engine 276, Ladder 156 and Battalion Chief 33.
The name, Midwood, derives from the Middle Dutch word, Midwout (middle woods; Modern Dutch: Midwoud), the name the settlers of New Netherland called the area of dense woodland midway between the towns of Boswyck (Bushwick) and Breuckelen (Brooklyn). Jan Snedeker, Jan Stryker, and Tomys Swartwout solicited from Director-General Stuyvesant the right of settling together on a level area of wilderness (vlacke bosch, the flat bush), adjacent to the outlying farms at Breukelen and Nieuw Amersfoort. Through Swartwout’s suggestion, the settlement was named the village of Midwout or Midwolde. In April 1655, Stuyvesant and the Council of New Netherland appointed Swartwout a schepen (magistrate), to serve with Snedeker and Adriaen Hegeman as the Court of Midwout. Later, it became part of old Flatbush, situated between the towns of Gravesend and Flatlands.
Settlement was begun by the Dutch in 1652; they later gave way to the English, who conquered it in 1664, but the area remained rural and undeveloped for the most part until its annexation to the City of Brooklyn in the 1890s. It became more developed in the 1920s when large middle class housing tracts and apartment buildings were built.
Many Midwood residents moved to the suburbs in the 1970s, and the neighborhood and its commercial districts declined. Drawn by its quiet middle-class ambiance, new residents began pouring into Midwood during the 1980s; many of them were recently landed immigrants from all over the world. The largest group were from the Soviet Union, but substantial numbers also arrived from Jamaica, Haiti, Guyana, Mexico and elsewhere in South America; from Ireland, Italy, Poland, the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), and elsewhere in eastern Europe; and from Greece, Turkey, Israel, Syria, the Persian Gulf states, Iran, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, China, and Korea. In a short time, Midwood was transformed, from a predominantly Jewish neighborhood with a smattering of Irish-Americans and German-Americans, to a remarkably polyglot section of the borough of Brooklyn.
Many residents refer to Midwood as “Flatbush,” or, erroneously, as being “part of Flatbush”, an older and more established neighborhood and former township, which in the 19th century included modern Midwood. The usage of Flatbush to mean Midwood dates to the period when the neighborhood was first formed, and known as South Greenfield. This usage is especially common among Orthodox Jews.
Many also consider the nearby neighborhood of Fiske Terrace/Midwood Gardens to be part of Midwood, but, as in many cities, neighborhood boundaries in Brooklyn are somewhat fluid and poorly defined
Ridgewood is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens. It borders the neighborhoods of Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale, as well as the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bushwick and East Williamsburg. Historically, the neighborhood straddled the Queens-Brooklyn boundary. The neighborhood is part of Queens Community Board 5.
Originally, Ridgewood was part of the Dutch settlement Boswijk (Bushwick) and was later incorporated into the village of Breuckelen (now Brooklyn). A legacy of this past stands today; Onderdonk House, which was erected in 1709. The house is the oldest Dutch Colonial stone house in New York City. Also located at the Onderdonk House site is Arbitration Rock, which was a marker for the disputed boundary between Bushwick and Newtown and essentially Brooklyn and Queens.
Although the area was originally farmed and settled by the Dutch during the 18th and 19th centuries, it was the secondary wave of English settlers who named it Ridgewood after the area’s green and hilly terrain. The development of public transportation, from horse-drawn cars in the mid-19th century and later trolleys and elevated trains, helped to spur residential and retail development. Most of the housing stock was built between 1905 and 1915 to house German immigrants who worked in the breweries and knitting factories that straddled the Queens-Brooklyn border.
After World War I, the population expanded with an influx of Gottscheers—an ethnic German population from Slovenia who were dislocated in the aftermath of World War I—and Irish, followed soon after by Italians. In April 1934, a large, 9,000-person boycott of Nazi Germany resulted in brawls between Nazi sympathizers and Jewish Communist groups.
In the mid-20th century, Romanians, Serbs, and Puerto Ricans arrived. By the late 20th century, Poles, Dominicans, and Ecuadorians—including a significant population of Quechua speaking Amerindians from the Imbabura and Cañar provinces of Ecuador—had moved to Ridgewood.