Next month is going to be an important anniversary in Ridgewood transit history. In January, it will be the 100th anniversary that the ground-level trains were elevated overhead.
G.X. Mathews was a major builder and developer in Ridgewood who constructed strong and well-built five-room flats, as he called them, with a bath. With the building boom created by the Mathews Company, thousands of new residents were flooding into the area monthly, which turned the ground-level train stations into deadly hazards.
In January 1914 work was begun to elevate the trains from Wyckoff Avenue and Palmetto Street to Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village at the Lutheran Cemetery. The Public Service Commission called it the Lutheran Cemetery Line Contract M-7.
Now going on 100 years old, it is still referred to as the “ M “ line. The line is one of the older ones in the city and still transports thousands every day to work.
The first wave of immigrants to inhabit this area was German. Shown here are the rows of residences with an iron structure going up in front of them. The excitement of watching the “ bents ” being put into place to support the track which was to be followed shortly brought people out on a cold day. These brick buildings have changed hands many times over the decades with the EL still standing.
Mathews’ “flats” still look as good as they did when they were built. Despite the trains, public records show these multifamily structures sell for around $750,000.