36 TIMES • MARCH 26, 2015 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT www.timesnewsweekly.com A view of the elevated rail siding that the Dietz Coal Company used to receive coal car shipments from across the country. The tracks are gone, but the concrete stanchions remain in place at the Glenridge Mews condominium parking lot. We have an email this week from Lucas Rogalski, a newcomer to Ridgewood looking for some background about his new home. He writes: “My name is Lucas and I recently moved in to the Glenridge Mews which is located on the Dietz coal company yard. I am doing my own research on the surrounding area along with the new residential building and I was hoping to see if you had any other photographs of Ridgewood and Glendale around the time before this plot of land became a condo building. Please let me know.” Thank you for your inquiry, Mr. Rogalski. Ask and you shall receive. The Glenridge Mews, a 65-unit condominium complex at the corner of Cypress Hills Street and 71st Avenue, were developed in the 1990s on what was once the Philip Dietz Coal Company, which not only supplied early 20th-century Ridgewood with fuel to heat their homes but also ice to keep cool during the summer. Philip Dietz started out as a dairy producer, but after that lagged, he converted his business in 1905 into a coal and wood supplier. At one point, the company built an elevated rail siding along the Long Island Rail Road Bay Ridge branch in order to accommodate coal car shipments from mines across the country. In the days before the advent of the gas burner or electric stove, coal was the primary source of home heating and cooking fuel for families. By itself, Dietz’s coal business was quite lucrative, as it supplied coal not only to local industries but also to area families—but Dietz had other plans for his business. In 1911, he expanded his plant to include an artifi cial ice making unit, with a capacity of producing and storing 82 long tons of ice per day. The ice was produced in 320-pound cakes, with seven cakes to the long ton. Dietz sold the ice cakes to independent sellers who, by horse and wagon, went to different neighborhoods and broke up and sold chunks of ice to local families. The ice was used primarily to operate ice boxes, forerunners of the refrigerator, to keep food and drink cool even in the hottest weather. Within fi ve years, Dietz’s ice business was booming, and had outgrown its plant. In 1916, he expanded the facility and brought in additional machinery to produce another 75 tons of ice per day. The Dietz plant also added storage units to hold up to 10,000 cakes of ice at a time. But advances in modern technology eventually made local coal and ice businesses obsolete, which ultimately caused Dietz Coal Company to fade into history. Even so, as seen in these pictures, one can view reminders of Dietz Coal Company’s past at Glenridge Mews. The concrete stanchions that once supported the rail siding remain upright in the condominium’s parking lot. Additionally, a stone engraving topping the former the Dietz Coal Company’s offi ce on 71st Avenue remains in place. If you have questions or would like to contribute to The Old Timer, write to The Old Timer, c/o Ridgewood Times, P.O. Box 863299, Ridgewood, NY 11386-0299, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. All mailed pictures will be carefully returned to you. old timer COAL COMPANY’S COOL HISTORY This 1970s photo shows the Dietz Coal Company plant looking southward on Cypress Hills Street near 71st Avenue. Note the coal silos in the background.
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