Rego Park, Queens
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2014)|
|Neighborhood in Queens|
Lost Battalion Hall
|Nickname(s): Real Good Park|
|Founded by||The Real Good Construction Company|
|Named for||The Real Good Construction Company|
|• Total||1.945 sq mi (5.04 km2)|
|Elevation||91.3 ft (27.8 m)|
Rego Park is a middle class neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens. Rego Park is bordered to the north by Elmhurst and Corona, the east and south by Forest Hills and the west by Middle Village. Rego Park's boundaries include Queens Boulevard, the Long Island Expressway, Woodhaven Boulevard, and Yellowstone Boulevard.
A swath of farmland until the early 20th century, the area that came to be called Rego Park was once populated by Dutch and German farmers who sold their produce in Manhattan. Later, the farmers were Chinese, and sold their goods exclusively to Chinatown.
Rego Park was named after the Real Good Construction Company, which began development of the area in the mid-1920s. "Rego" comes from the first two letters of the first two words of the company's name. The company built 525 eight-room houses costing $8,000 each, stores were built in 1926 on Queens Boulevard and 63rd Drive, and apartment buildings were built in 1927–1928.
The short block of 63rd Drive between Austin Street and the Long Island Railroad overpass was the scene of a fire in February 1972 that claimed a row of stores and the neighborhood library. The blistering fire reportedly started in the second store on the block from Austin Street, a shoe store, and quickly spread with the gusting winds to neighboring stores, including a television repair shop, toy store, pet shop and a pioneering Indian restaurant, and finally, the library, where row upon row of oily books and wooden shelves sent flames high into the sky and up the embankment of the railroad. Firefighters scrambled to keep the windswept flames from reaching an apartment house behind the stores, a new Key Food supermarket across Austin Street, or the Shell gas station just across the drive. The library caved in before flames could damage the electrical wires lining the railroad. A new library eventually opened across the street (on the former site of the Shell gas station). After the fire, until the new library was built, the community was served by a mobile "Bookmobile" library which parked under the LIRR tracks on 63rd Drive.
Aside from the many apartment buildings, multi-family, and railroad houses which make up Rego Park, some houses in Rego Park are in the colonial and Tudor styles with slate roofs. This is especially so in an area called the Crescents, named for its semicircular shaped streets emanating in a concentric pattern from Alderton Street, between Woodhaven Boulevard and the Long Island Rail Road Main Line.
Like its neighbor, Forest Hills, Rego Park has long had a significant Jewish population, most of which have Georgian and Russian Jewish ancestors, with a number of synagogues and kosher restaurants. Cartoonist Art Spiegelman grew up in Rego Park and made it the setting for significant scenes involving his aged father in Maus, his graphic novel about the Holocaust. Many Holocaust survivors, including Spiegelman's parents, settled there after 1945. Even as many Jews have departed for further-flung suburbs over the years, they have been replaced by Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union, especially from Central Asia. Though these immigrants largely trace their ethnic roots back to Bukharan Jewish culture, the effect of life in the Soviet Union on the population has led Rego Park to have a Russian feel with many signs in Russian Cyrillic. Most of the Bukharan Jewish immigrants in the neighborhood come from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and it is possible to find excellent, authentic Uzbek and Tajik cuisine in many Rego Park restaurants. Immigrant populations from Albania, Israel, Romania, Iran, Colombia, South Asia, China, Bulgaria, and South Korea are also well represented.
There is a local online community called Rego Park Group. Originally hosted on Yahoo! Groups, the group aims at providing residents and merchants of Rego Park with opportunities for community service, socializing, and activism, improving the quality of life in the neighborhood. They partner with other organizations to benefit the community. The Rego Park Green Alliance has also been active in the community planting flowers and trees, arranging the installation of new garbage cans, pushing for the repair of some sidewalks and creating a large mural celebrating the neighborhood under the LIRR overpass on 63rd Drive.
In March 2010 the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, a beneficiary agency of the UJA-Federation of New York, partnered with Masbia in the opening of a kosher soup kitchen on Queens Boulevard. As of August 2010, the free restaurant was serving over 1,500 meals per month to adults, senior citizens, and families.
The neighborhood is served by the 112th Precinct. There is one engine and one ladder company in a single firehouse within its boundaries, and another on its border; the New York City Fire Department deployments to structural fires within the district have customarily been satisfactorily prompt.
Rego Park's public schools, as are the public schools in all of New York City, are operated by the New York City Department of Education. The following elementary schools serve Rego Park:
- P.S. 139 (Rego Park School, grades K-5); P.S. 139 Parents' Association
- P.S. 174 (William Sidney Mount School, grades K-6)
- P.S. 175 (the Lynn Gross Discovery School, grades preK-5)
- P.S. 206 (the Horace Harding School, grades K-5)
- P.S. 220 (Edward Mandel School, grades preK-5)
All areas in Rego Park are zoned to J.H.S. 157 Stephen A. Halsey (6 - 9), in Rego Park, or J.H.S. 190 Russell Sage (7-9) in Forest Hills. Rego Park is not zoned to a high school as all New York City high schools get students by application. Forest Hills High School is located in nearby Forest Hills.
Our Lady of the Angelus, a PK–8 private school operated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, is located in Rego Park. Resurrection-Ascension School, another PK-8 private school operated by the Diocese of Brooklyn, is also located in Rego Park.
The Rego Park Library Branch of Queens Library, is located at 91-41 63rd Drive in Rego Park. As of 2010, the total annual circulation was 382,545 volumes, which is the highest number of volumes compared to two other libraries in Queens Community District 6, Forest Hills and North Forest Park libraries. All three libraries in Community Board 6 are heavily utilized by growing numbers of immigrants.
Along Queens Boulevard, Rego Park is home to some of Queens' most popular shopping destinations, including the Rego Park Center (formerly Alexander's department store), a retail complex with a large Sears, Bed Bath & Beyond, Marshalls, and Old Navy locations. A new shopping center, recently built on 62nd Drive across from Rego Park Center, houses a Kohl's, a Century 21 (department store), a Costco, a T.J. Maxx, a Toys "R" Us, a Payless ShoeSource, Panera Bread, and a Pier 1 Imports with more stores being built. The Queens Center mall, the borough's largest, lies just to the west in Elmhurst. Shopping districts with many smaller stores, bakeries, pharmacies and restaurants can be found along 108th Street and 63rd Drive. Just off of Woodhaven Boulevard, the first Trader Joe's in Queens opened in 2007. The shopping plaza, located at 90-30 Metropolitan Ave., also has a Staples and a Michaels.
The main business thoroughfare of Rego Park is 63rd Drive. The main section extends from Woodhaven Boulevard in the south, to Queens Boulevard in the north, with the central business district of Rego Park nestled between Alderton Street (just south of the Long Island Rail Road overpass), and Queens Boulevard. The stretch south of Alderton is entirely residential. The business district is anchored by The Rego Park School PS 139Q, an elementary school dating from 1928 and Our Saviour Lutheran Church established in 1926 which right across Wetherole Street from PS 139Q. The business district is criss-crossed by four side streets: Saunders, Booth, Wetherole, and Austin Streets. Most of the businesses lining 63rd Drive are the original single story "Taxpayers" dating from the 1930s.
Across Queens Boulevard to the north, 63rd Drive becomes 63rd Road, and its business district continues another three blocks; 63rd Drive actually shifts one block south of 63rd Road. On the northeast corner of Queens Boulevard and 63rd Road, Rego Center is a 277,000-square-foot (25,700 m2) site across the street from Sears that features four floors of shops and a multilevel parking garage developed by Vornado Realty Trust. The shopping mall opened on March 3, 2010 with 950,000 square feet (88,000 m2) of retail space.
The Long Island Rail Road overpass between Austin and Alderton Streets was the location of the Rego Park station until its abandonment in 1962. Though physically part of the railroad "Main Line" heading out to Jamaica, the station operated as part of the Rockaway Beach Branch. The station was later dismantled, and little can be discerned of its existence now save for the flattened clearing beside the tracks.
In popular culture
- Rego Park was the setting of the 1980s sitcom Dear John, which centered around the fictional "Rego Park Community Center."
- The CBS sitcom The King of Queens is set in Rego Park, and sometimes shows clips of the area.
- What Happened to Anna K.: A Novel by Irina Reyn is set in Rego Park. Most of the characters are Bukharan Jews who have emigrated from the Soviet Union.
- Brooklyn's Finest, a 2010 release, was filmed in part in Rego Park.
- A substantial part of Art Spiegelman's graphic novel Maus, a biographical account of his father, a Holocaust survivor, is set in Rego Park.
- The 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street was filmed in part in Rego Park.
- In an episode of General Hospital originally aired on May 26, 2015, Denise, an emerging character, claims that she's from Rego Park.
Notable current and former residents of Rego Park include:
- Sid Caesar, Actor/Comedian
- Eddie Egan, New York Police Department/French Connection fame
- Vera-Ellen, Actress/Dancer
- June Havoc, Actress
- Aram Haigaz, Armenian Writer
- Steve Hofstetter, Comedian/Radio personality
- Malika Kalontarova, Central Asian legendary dancer "Queen of Eastern Dance" (People's Artist of USSR)
- Fatima Kuinova, Central Asian singer, one of the leading singers in the Soviet Union (Merited Artist of USSR)
- Gypsy Rose Lee, American burlesque entertainer
- Robert Lipsyte, Sports journalist
- Tommy Ramone, Drummer of The Ramones
- Dave Rubinstein, Singer of Reagan Youth
- Bobby Schayer, Former drummer of Bad Religion
- Fred Silverman, American television producer
- Art Spiegelman, Pulitzer Prize–winning graphic artist
- Queens Community Boards, New York City. Accessed September 3, 2007.
- Congressman Anthony D. Weiner: Rego Park from Vincent Seyfried, The Encyclopedia of New York City, Edited by Kenneth T. Jackson. New Haven, Yale University Press. 1995., accessed December 3, 2006[not in citation given]
- "Masbia Serves Good Meals With Dignity". United Jewish Federation of New York. 3 August 2010. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
- "Publications - New York City Department of City Planning" (PDF). New York City Department of City Planning. July 2009. pp. 105–106. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 2009. Retrieved 2010-09-19.
- "Queens Library". Retrieved 2010-09-19.
- "Community District Needs, Queens - Fiscal Year 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-09-19.
- "Trader Joe's is coming to Queens". New York Daily News. October 24, 2007. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
- Kadinsky, Sergey (4 March 2010). "Rego Center II anchors open to fanfare". Queens Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-03-15.
- "Rego Center, NY-Vornado Retail". Retrieved 2010-03-15
- Silverberg, Alex. "Comic Thanks His Queens Upbringing", copy of article from The Queens Tribune, July 6, 2007. Accessed October 18, 2007. "Hofstetter has been all around Queens. He spent his younger years in Briarwood before moving on to Forest Hills, and finally settling down in Rego Park for the duration of his teen years."
- Lipsyte, Robert. "COPING; My Bullied Days: A Smart Fat Kid's Story", The New York Times, October 22, 1995. Accessed October 11, 2007. "Rego Park was predominately Jewish, and most of the bullying had no ethnic edge."
- Of mice and men, The Age, March 27, 2004.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rego Park, Queens.|
- Rego Park, NY History
- Queens Community District 6 - New York City Department of City Planning
- The Parks of Rego Park
- Rego Park Green Alliance
- Lost Battalion Hall Recreation Center