Tonsor Street runs from Metropolitan Avenue at Andrews Avenue three blocks southeast to Greene Avenue in Ridgewood. Toward its north end it makes a dramatic curve on a hill, permitting a view of the Shining City. I had always been a bit puzzled about the name; I know that “tonsorial” is an adjective for barbers and their art, but I knew that couldn’t be it. It so happens that Tonsor Street and Grover Cleveland High School, which it runs past, are connected.
Cleveland High was built, along with Bayside High School, Samuel J. Tilden High School, Abraham Lincoln High School, John Adams High School, Walton High School, and Andrew Jackson High School, in the early years of the Great Depression using the same blueprints. All are large, imposing buildings. Actress Rosie Perez is an alumna, and longtime Yankees and Rangers announcers Bob Sheppard and Jim Gordon graduated from Cleveland High as did entertainer Julius La Rosa.
The first principal of Cleveland High was Charles Augusts Tonsor; he was also a member of Ridgewood Savings Bank’s board of directors, and wrote several historical treatises on the neighborhood.
This map (to which I have helpfully added some street names) shows the area of Ridgewood where Tonsor Street is located in 1909. Neither Grover Cleveland High School nor Tonsor Street existed yet: notice that their locations show a largely undeveloped triangular space between Stanhope Street, Grandview Avenue and Forest Avenue.
Later, streets like Harman, Greene Avenue and Bleecker Street would be extended through past Forest Avenue. The two small streets, Butler and Ricard, would be retained. A new short street was laid out parallel to Grandview Avenue and named Amory Street. I would presume that it would be renamed for Tonsor after the educator’s death. The Amory name survives in nearby Amory Court, which runs for a block between Metropolitan and Grandview at Linden Hill Cemetery, which is to the north of this map’s location.