From Nowy Dziennik
January 9, 2003
By Marcin Szczepanski
Poles have colonized Ridgewood, Queens in recent years. They have
opened many Polish stores and agencies in the area. There is the
Polish-Slavic Federal Credit Union branch, Polish restaurants and
Polish grocery stores. There is a Polish bookstore on Fresh Pond
Road, Polish flower shop on Forest Avenue, and Polish mass at St.
Matthew's Church, (attended by about 900 people on Sundays)
Poles who buy houses or rent apartments in Ridgewood usually speak
English and have been in the United States for a quite a few years.
They generally have legalized immigrant status, and possess either
a green card or citizenship. Also, they are well educated. Many
of them are young married couples with children.
According to the Census 2000, Poles and Polish Americans make up
about 10 percent of the population of Ridgewood. Poles were drawn
to Ridgewood by cheaper apartment rents as well as by Polish stores
"Poles who settle in Ridgewood usually work in American firms and
would succeed even if they lived in a neighborhood where there wasn't
a single Pole," said one of the residents. "The reason they choose
Ridgewood is because they feel the need for cultural unity."
Danusias Deli. Tuesday Afternoon
There is a variety of Polish meats and an assortment of Polish
chocolate, Polish candies, and Polish newspapers in the store. Two
Polish women, Dorota and Agnieszka, are the salespersons.
"I don't like Greenpoint," said Agnieszka Skawinska. "Here, you
have a higher standard of living."
Skawinska also said that her neighborhood (Ridgewood) is much cleaner.
There are fewer drunkards on the streets and apartments here are
nicer than in Greenpoint.
Father Lukasz Trocha from the local St. Matthew's Church has a different
theory. He believes the brick houses are the reason why Poles move
to Ridgewood. Higher standards, of course, are important, but the
layers of bricks covering the walls of houses in Ridgewood remind
Poles of Europe.
"Please, take a look, the whole block is made of bricks. You won't
find that in Greenpoint," said Trocha while driving around the neighborhood.
"It's the influence of Germans, who settled here at the end of the
Trocha was assigned to Ridgewood two and a half years ago, after
graduating from an American seminary. He is the favorite priest
of [local] Poles.
"It's a peaceful and pretty area. There are trees and grass. A new
park was opened recently," said a woman who works at a Polish video
rental store on Forest Avenue. She has been in New York for a year,
but she has visited Greenpoint only a few times.
It's a bit of an exaggeration that Ridgewood is green. Trees in
the area look rather miserable. But perhaps its because its
Edyta Sieminska, a bartender at Café Del Mar, a Polish bar
in Ridgewood, doesn't have anything against Greenpoint. After all,
she lived there for a couple of years. But she, as well, prefers
"I like the ethnic diversity here," she said. "In Ridgewood,
there are people of different nationalities, not just Poles and
Americans. You can meet an Italian, Yugoslavian, Albanese,
a Czech or immigrants from Latin America."
Although there are numerous reasons why Poles move to Ridgewood,
the lower rent is really what draws them here.
"[Living in] Ridgewood is cheaper than in Greenpoint. For a
two bedroom apartment one pays between $900 to $1,200. A similar
apartment in Greenpoint costs $1,200 - $1,600.
A two family house in Ridgewood usually costs $350,000 - $450,000.
A house of similar standards in Greenpoint costs $150,000 to $200,000
more. The price of most luxurious houses in Greenpoint cost us much
as $850,000," according to Daniel Andrejczuk from Adas Realty,
a real estate agency in Greenpoint.
Translated from Polish by Joanna Sufin
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