24 AUGUST 6, 2020 RIDGEWOOD TIMES WWW.QNS.COM
A forgotten name for a Ridgewood community
When this photo was taken, the street where these men are pictured was located in a section known as St. James Park.
BY THE OLD TIMER
OUR NEIGHBORHOOD: THE WAY IT WAS
Ask someone about the location
of St. James Park and the
answer could be somewhere in
the Bronx or in London, England.
But we wonder how many of our
readers are aware that the name
once referred to a section in our
Today, much of what once was
known as St. James Park is commonly
referred to as the Farmers Oval area,
for the park at 65th Place and Catalpa
Avenue that has had a few diff erent
names but is offi cially known as Mafera
The St. James Park area was roughly
bounded by Catalpa Avenue on the
south; Madison Street on the north;
Fresh Pond Road on the west; and 68th
Street on the east.
Before it was developed as a
residential section, the property was
farmland known as the Wagner farm
(previously known as the George Lahr
farm and before that, as part of the
Edsall farm) that was subdivided in
The property immediately east of
65th Place eventually became Farmers
Oval, while additional land was
purchased for use by the New York
As noted by George Miller, historian
for the Greater Ridgewood Historical
Society, all of the north-south roadways
in the subdivision were named
for Union Army generals in the Civil
St. James United Presbyterian
Church was located on Hughes Street
(now 68th Avenue) east of Fresh Pond
Road. Today, the building remains a
house of worship, known as Marantha
Romanian Baptist Church.
During the summer of 1913, the
St. James Park Airdrome (an outdoor
movie operation in a tent) opened at
Grant Street (62nd Street) and Hancock
Street (later Hughes Street and now 68th
Avenue). Admission was fi ve cents.
Although St. James Park was east
of Fresh Pond Road, in the early days
of P.S. 88 — located on the west side
of Fresh Pond Road, then a dirt road,
at Elm Street (now known as Catalpa
Avenue) — it was considered as being
in St. James Park. Jacob H. Rohrbach
was the first principal of P.S. 88,
which opened on Sept. 8, 1908. People
referred to it as “the St. James Park
The use of “St. James Park” as a name
for that section of the neighborhood
began to fade around 1917.
THE ICEMAN COMETH
One of the photos that we have this
week, showing two men with horses,
was taken around 1915 in St. James
On the left is William Keller, holding
the reins of his horse, while on
the right is his father, Jacob Keller.
Pictured in the background is the
house where William Keller resided.
Its address was 881 Sedgwick St. (formerly
Grant Street, now 62nd Street).
The address of the two-story house
later became 68-33 62nd St.
William Keller delivered coal and
ice from Philip Dietz and also from
the Knickerbocker Ice Company. Aft er
obtaining the ice, he would make his
rounds to customers.
Typically, the icemen such as William
Keller would travel on the dirt
side roads, delivering pieces of ice to
houses for use in iceboxes and also to
The Dietz plant was located on the
west side of “Old” Fresh Pond Road
(now Cypress Hills Street) and Van
Cortlandt Avenue (now 71st Avenue)
near the Ridgewood/Glendale border.
Today, it is the site of the Glenridge
Many people who are somewhat
familiar with the name of the former
company’s owner associate it with
coal. Originally, however, Philip Dietz
operated a dairy before he made the
switch to selling coal and wood in 1905.
Six years later, he expanded his business
by installing artifi cial ice-making
machinery with a capacity of 82 long
tons per day.
The ice was produced in 320-lb.
cakes (seven cakes to the long ton).
It was sold to route men for $3 per
ton. The icemen would come with
their horse and open wagon to the ice
plant to pick up the cakes of ice for
The route men usually had divided
up the areas among themselves so that
there was little competition. They cut
the 320-lb. cakes of ice into eight 10-
cent pieces of 40 lbs. each and made
a profi t of $2.60 per ton. They earned
every penny, as it was hard work.
During the hot summer months, as
the iceman made his rounds, the horse
pulled his open wagon with the cakes
of ice covered with a heavy canvas to
prevent melting. When he arrived at
the home of one of his customers, the
iceman would remove the covering.
Using an ice pick, he would proceed
to chop the cake of ice to obtain the size
piece as wanted by the customer.
The iceman then used his ice tongs
and a burlap cloth to haul the piece of
ice from his wagon to the house. In
some homes, he entered the basement
and went to the dumbwaiter, where a
metal dishpan was placed to await the
ice. When the iceman placed it in the
pan, his customer would then haul up
the ice and put it in the icebox.
During the summer months, a
housewife would usually order a piece
of ice every other day, and twice per
week during the winter months.
When General Electric introduced
an electric refrigerator in the early
1930s, however, it signaled the beginning
of the end for the “ice age.” Even
so, many people continued to think
in terms of an icebox, referring to a
refrigerator as one.
Reprinted from the June 25, 2009, issue
of the Ridgewood Times.
* * *
If you have any remembrances or old
photographs of “Our Neighborhood:
The Way It Was” that you would like to
share with our readers, please write to
the Old Timer, c/o Ridgewood Times, 38-
15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361, or send
an email to editorial@ridgewoodtimes.
com. Any print photographs mailed to
us will be carefully returned to you upon