Monday, June 7, 2010

From Homes To Art Deco Shops, 63rd Dr, Rego Park, Spring 1949

Homes Yield to shops on 63rd Drive in Rego Park

By Historian Ron Marzlock, Queens Chronicle & Rego-Forest Preservation Council Blog contributor
From June 3, 2010 "I Have Often Walked" column

Art Deco shops which took the place of private homes on 63rd Drive between Booth and Saunders streets, in the spring of 1949.

In Rego Park, 63rd Drive was the shopping district that was never meant to be, but was in the end. It and 66th Avenue, formerly White Pot Road, are the two oldest roads in Rego Park, dating to Revolutionary War days. What’s now 63rd Drive, had been known as Remsen Lane, named for the family of Col. Jeromus Remsen, who won fame during the Revolution at the Battle of Long Island, also known as the Battle of Brooklyn. The patriots lost that 1776 melee, leaving the British in control of New York City for the rest of the conflict. The descendants of the Remsen family still owned property on 63rd Drive as late as 1900. 

There were 10 different Remsen streets, roads and avenues scattered throughout Queens until 1913, when the borough largely changed over to numbered streets. Remsen Place in Maspeth still exists.

When Rego Park was originally developed in 1925, 63rd Drive was planned to be a quiet residential street. A row of 10 homes was built on its west side between Booth and Saunders streets. The shopping district was on Eliot Avenue and Queens Boulevard. But it was announced as early as 1942 that the Queens Midtown Highway, later named the Long Island Expressway, would be coming directly through the spot where the stores were. Their destruction began in 1954. 

Anticipating the need for a replacement strip, Robert E. Hill, Inc. of the Bronx wisely bought the homes on 63rd Drive in 1947 to build stores in their place. One house that escaped, just visible on the left of this photo, was demolished later. The strip has been a major shopping mecca for Rego Park residents ever since. 

Calling Volunteers for Membership Drive at June 13th Forest Hills Festival of The Arts

The 10th Bi-Annual Forest Hills Festival of The Arts will be on Sun, June 13th from 10 AM - 6 PM, and situated on Austin St between 69th Rd & 72nd Rd. Happy Birthday!

If you would like to volunteer for Rego-Forest Preservation Council's free membership drive, e-mail where you can present our sign-up form to locals. You will be recognized for your contribution. You can also assist us anytime year-round at your convenience.

The Rego-Forest Preservation Council Sign-Up Form to download:

It's always proud to see the neighborhood coming together, as well as former residents paying a visit. There will be food, music, crafts, great bargains, children's games, and much more! Many booths are local businesses. It is sponsored by the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, and held in the spring and fall.

These are photos from prior years...

Oct 4, 2009:
June 14, 2009:
June 8, 2008:

History of Duggan's Pond, Rego Park

From A Filthy Swale To A Swell Spot To Rest

By Historian Ron Marzlock, Queens Chronicle & Rego-Forest Preservation Council Blog contributor
From May 20, 2010 "I Have Often Walked" column

The former Duggan’s Pond at Woodhaven Boulevard and 63rd Drive, Rego Park in October 1938, after the city cleaned it up.

Duggan’s Pond — not really a pond at all but a trash-filled mud hole — was located at the corner of 63rd Drive and Woodhaven Boulevard. It occupied an oddly shaped triangle at a corner where Rego Park meets Middle Village. The so-called pond filled up when it rained and also was used as a popular dumping spot.

The city had acquired the site on Nov 11, 1920 from the Matawok Land Company for use by the Parks Department. It went downhill from there.

On May 27, 1931 the Rego Park Democratic Club sent a letter to the Queens health commissioner requesting that the depression be filled up immediately due to safety and health hazards. The city complied, leveling the ground and leaving the hundreds of discarded bottles at the bottom sealed up forever.

In 1938, only 18 years after the city originally purchased the site, it was finally graded, planted, and provided with study park benches for the local residents. The benches looked across the street just a few feet to the Horseshoe Barbecue Restaurant, which looked like a circular rocket ship prop out of Buck Rogers. That spot later became a Carvel, then a Westsons, Nathan’s and finally Dunkin’ Donuts. The triangle remains, well-appreciated as a safe haven to sit, rest, read, or just watch the day go by.