By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
In parts of Rego Parkin the winding streets of the Crescents, for example, with their rambling mock-Tudor housesyou, well . . . saunter. But when you reach Queens Boulevard, lined with six-story brick apartment buildings and high-rises, you'd better dashat least if you're crossing the thoroughfare known locally as Death Boulevard. This six-lane commercial avenue, which bisects Rego Park, has seen more than its share of accidents. But recent traffic improvements have cut down on fatalities, and you can get all the excitement you want doing your marketing at the mom-and-pop stores, shopping the big chains, eating out ethnic, or just strolling through this international slice of Queensdom. The neighborhood is definitely upscale and upwardly striving: On a Sunday morning at the Shalimar Diner on 63rd Drive, while you munch on onion bagels and lox, you can overhear kids talking about their advanced-placement courses. One draw of the area is that it's within walking distance to Forest Hills' Austin Street strip with its multiplex, Starbucks, Gap, etc., and packed restaurant-and-bar scene. But if Rego Park is a little sister to grande dame Forest Hills, its apartments are more affordable. The neighborhood demographic is youthful, the overwhelming majority between 25 and 59 years old. "There are a lot of young, single people living in apartments close to Queens Boulevard who moved from Manhattan," says Re/Max F.H. Realty broker Joan Patchowsky. "They want less expensive housing, something safer, and an area where they can get into the city quickly."
Population: The area is home to many longtime, mostly Jewish, residents, who live side by side with recent immigrants. Rego Park splits almost equally between homes where English is a first language and those where Chinese, Spanish, or Russian is primarily spoken.
Boundaries: The Long Island Expressway to the north, Yellowstone Boulevard to the east, and Woodhaven Boulevard to the south and west. Equidistant from JFK and LaGuardia, Rego Park's a great home port for frequent fliers.
Transportation: Both the V and R trains stop at 63rd Drive, Rego Park28 minutes from Times Square.
Main Drags: The huge, congested intersection where Queens Boulevard and 63rd Drive/63rd Road meet, dominated by the Sears/Marshalls mini-mall, is the heart of the nabe.
Average Price to Rent: Studio, $800 to $1000; one-bedroom, $1000 to $1250; two-bedroom, $1300 to $1700; three-bedroom, $1600 to $2200; house, $2350 to $4000
Average Price to Buy: Studio, $60,000 to $90,000; one-bedroom, $90,000 to $125,000; two-bedroom, $130,000 to $190,000; three-bedroom, $185,000 to $260,000; house, $300,000 to $800,000
Local Landmarks: "Meet me at Alexander's," the locals still say, although, for years, the building at Queens Boulevard and 63rd Drive that housed the department store has been home to an Old Navy and a Bed Bath & Beyond, as well as Sears and Marshalls. Ben's Best (96-40 Queens Boulevard) kosher deli, one of Queens' oldest surviving New York delis (since 1944), is renowned for its pastrami and turkey.
Cultural Institutions: The Rego Park branch (91-41 63rd Drive) of the Queens Library offers a substantial collection of Russian-language literature.
Famous Residents: One of the best-known Rego Parkers lives only on the pageVladek Spiegelman, hero of Art Spiegelman's classic graphic novel Maus. Actually, the author lived here too, as did stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, comedian Sid Caesar, and former Knick star Willis Reed Jr.
Best Restaurants: Robert Sietsema picks the kosher Uzbeki Salut (63-42 108th Street) for superior baba ghanoush and amazing kebabs (sweetbreads and bone-in chicken), and Kazan Turkish Cuisine (95-36 Queens Boulevard) for great bread dips.
Community Organizations: Lots of residential groups flourish here. The Forest Hills Crescent Association (which, despite its name, is in Rego Park) works to preserve the single-family-house character of the Crescents; the Anita Apartments Homeowners Association is battling substandard conditions in their "luxury" co-op development.
Politicians: Congressman Anthony Weiner, Assemblyman Michael Cohen, Councilmember Melinda Katz, State Senator (starting December 2002) Toby Ann Stavisky (for most of Rego Park, with some parts represented by John Sabini, Malcolm Smith, or Ada Smith). All are Democrats.
Crime Stats: The 112th Precinct serves Rego Park and Forest Hills. As of November 4, it reported one murder, up one from last year; six rapes, up three; 146 robberies, down 32; 58 felony assaults, down 29; and 284 burglaries, down 20.