As the second year of the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair was drawing crowds of people to Queens, the Regency Park housing complex was being built a stone’s throw away, on the west side of Main Street in the new neighborhood of Kew Gardens Hills.
The only other buildings in the area at the time were the Hepcke Dog Kennels and the Kew Gardens Dog Kennels.
Regency Park, now Gardens, sits on 12 acres running from Union Turnpike to 78th Avenue, only a comparatively small part of which is used for the buildings. The rest is laid out in beautiful gardens and one complete acre was devoted to a playground. The architect who designed it all was Rosario Candela (1890-1953), the famous Italian-born designer whose buildings are held in the highest esteem in New York City.
The 543-family complex rented three-room apartments for $50 a month, going up to four and a half rooms for $67. By July 1, 1941, 152 leases had been signed and there was a waiting list until October. Regency Park enjoyed a delightful and commanding position on a crest, and overlooked the Manhattan skyline before the massive development that followed decades later. The site had been known as Breezy Top Farm during the time of the Civil War.
A hundred years later, many of Regency Park’s original tenants were starting to move away, and some passed on. Over time the buildings entered a state of disrepair. But by the late 1980s they had been “rediscovered” as the architectural gems they are, and a renaissance began as they were restored. The complex also was turned into a cooperative, making its apartments a great investment for anyone who wanted to live in one of the finest places in Kew Gardens Hills.