Seneca Avenue is the historical strip that begins on Troutman Street in Ridgewood, a block from Brooklyn, is quickly broken up by athletic facilities and terminates at Saint Felix Avenue at the edge of Glendale some 30 blocks later.
The name Seneca is taken from a New York Indian tribe whose name for themselves was Onandowaga, or people of the hill. The avenue was developed in the early 20th century and populated by thousands of German-speaking immigrants from Europe. Its trolley provided cheap transportation for the hard-working immigrants. Part of it is now a historic district.
Just some of the well-known Germans and their businesses along Seneca were Dr. Frederick Fels, the optometrist, at number 682; the Christ Eisenhardt restaurant at 689; Goennewich and Schaller real estate at 714; Max Stamm, the butcher, at 719; Springer’s Delicatessen at 751 and Louis Wuebber, the plumber, at 763.
By the early 1960s the children of these immigrants were educated and growing tired of the old attached buildings in the area. Cheap gas helped prompt them to move away to modern, larger, affordable private homes in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
As the Germans either passed on or moved away, Seneca Avenue became populated with Spanish, Chinese, Serbian and Polish people in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.
Gasoline is no longer cheap. Homes on Long Island are no longer as affordable. Ironically, the great-grandchildren of the Germans who went out to Long Island are moving back to the Seneca Avenue section of Ridgewood because it’s affordable, historic and is crossed by a train that gets them into Manhattan fast and cheaply.