3. There was a fire in Rego Park in 1972 that destroyed much of Rego Park’s property

63rd Road

In 1972, a fire broke out on 63rd Drive between Austin Street and the Long Island Rail Road overpass, destroying over a block of buildings and the library. The fire broke out at a shoe store and quickly grew to a television repair center, a pet store, a toy shop, and an Indian restaurant. The library and its many wooden shelves also went up in flames and hit the railroad embankment above. A fire had decimated the same block in 1959 as well but did not get as much press.

The 1972 fire was contained so that it did not reach a nearby apartment building and a new Key Food supermarket. The fire was also put out before it damaged electrical wires on the railroad. However, dozens of people were out of work, and it took years to repair the blocks affected. A new library was built across the street, though in the meantime, the community had a “Bookmobile” provide services underneath the LIRR tracks.