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Bushwick 77: Burning out the Heart of Bushwick

- CartLegger - Sunday, July 18th, 2010 : goo

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It was 33 years ago today, that All Hands Fire ripped through Bushwick. It was such a big event, that it deserves another post!

These are new photos released by FDNY archives. Thanks to Randy Barron and FDNY Photo Archives, and Noah Detweiler for his work sifting through thousands of negatives to find these gems! If you'd like to see the originals, just ask! They are public property, after all!

Finally, as I wrote about it three years ago, I thought I'd let my former students tell you about this time!

##On July 18 1977, a giant fire burned out the heart of Bushwick. It was one of the biggest fires that FDNY ever fought. It started at the corner of Knickerbocker Avenue and Bleecker Street in an old abandoned knitting factory. It was set by three teenagers, who were later charged with reckless endangerment, third degree assault and arson, and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

It was like many other fires that occurred during the firestorm years of Bushwick, except for the old tank of Kerosene in the basement. When it exploded, a fireball exploded out of the building. It took about 3 to 5 hours for 55 units of firefighters from Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn to put out the fire. The fire hydrants were no use to the firefighters because they were low on water.
It turned out that the citizens throughout the summer kept on using the hydrants to fight off the heat. The firefighters also were low on equipment because of the low budget the department received. Many citizens were affected by the fire. 65 families lost their homes and about 23 buildings were destroyed, as well as 50 people injured, including firefighters.

This fire was important to Bushwick because many homes were lost and it showed how dangerous leaving abandoned buildings could be. It was also important to the rebuilding of Bushwick. The empty space left by the fire is now the location of the 83rd precinct, which help

Lourdelis Garcia and Lita Lynne
The Academy of Urban Planning##

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The old Schwaben Hall on Bleeker

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This article has been viewed 26770 times in the last 4 years

Bb2ru: 19th Jul 2010 - 16:25 GMT

This was a crazy day in Bushwick, I remember clearly that entire incident watching fire trucks roll up and down Knickerboker Ave. the knitting factoria burned for days, still after a week smoke kept coming out from the basement area.

anon ( 26th Mar 2011 - 15:30 GMT

I moved out of Hancock St. in Brooklyn in June 63.The house I lived in is still standing, it started out as a cold water flat. (railroad rooms). Steam heatwas added. I (and my two sisters) went to St. Martin of Tours. Had great times there. crsbutler

Bb2ru: 26th Mar 2011 - 22:53 GMT

Anon where on Hancock did you live, I lived on Hancock between Knickerboker and Irving moved out in 1975

basic t.p.a / t.m.5 crew: 20th Aug 2011 - 04:26 GMT

i lived on hancock between knickerbocker and wilson ave with my aunt!!! & i remeber this day like it was

Jerry Tusa: Nov. 27th, 2011: 29th Nov 2011 - 03:23 GMT

i had a coca cola route in bushwick. i was there that day watching it burn. i was in citibank across the street and felt the heat in the bank

anon ( 21st Feb 2012 - 01:08 GMT

the memories of my early childhood in this area, shall live on in my heart eternally...

Ben: 2nd Mar 2012 - 22:05 GMT

wow and just to think that the 77 black outs happened that same year. man Bushwick has been through a lot.

Mary Jean Brocia Foss: 19th Mar 2012 - 01:03 GMT

I remember this fire, if I am not mistaken (5 alarm) in Bushwick--went down in the history books!

Bb2ru: 10th Apr 2012 - 03:00 GMT

Knickerbocker Ave has a total different look now, just went back to visit after almost 20 years and couldn't believe the change, new housing projects, stores,83 Police Pct., schools, Bushwick High School now extendend to Putnam Ave. incredible!!!!!

mike: 25th Apr 2012 - 08:26 GMT

I lived at 248 Bleecker St.My family and I lost everything.It was hot as hell no water because of open hydrants and that knitting mill (Berg & Berg )should have been torn down long before that.The fire was set by glue sniffers who hung out there.The firefighters did the best they could the odds were stacked against them.Our lives have moved on but my memories of that day will never go away.

L.horvath: 19th May 2012 - 22:13 GMT

Brought back wonderful memories...met my wife at a Baker Ball at the Schwaben Hall.

anon ( 19th Jun 2012 - 18:59 GMT

I lived[1949 till 19630 first at 37 Covert Street[off Bushwick Ave] , then 1347 Bushwick Ave[next to DR. Corona] between Schaeffer and decatur] around the corner from the Gay Bar with the piano player] moved to Cypress Hills , July of 63

anon ( 19th Jun 2012 - 19:00 GMT

I can be contacted at

rosemaryinsc: 19th Jun 2012 - 19:53 GMT

I married a guy from Hancock, between Knickerbocker and Irving. I lived 739 Knickerbocker, until a fire in '61. Moved to Cornelia and Knickerbocker

Josephine Russo: 20th Jun 2012 - 12:26 GMT

Bushwick was one of the best area to live in when we were kids I loved growing up in Williamburg but I also remember how beautiful the Bushwick area was..I had alot of friends who lived in Ridgewood and I would take the Wilson ave bus to visit them I went to Bushwick High School until 1959 when I grad.I had inlaws who lived on Starr street between Kick and Wilson and I would walk on Kick.ave with my daughters and shop..They might have burn down Bushwick but we have our memories......

Bb2ru: 25th Jun 2012 - 12:38 GMT

Rosemary who in Hancock did you marry?, I used to live at 1329 Hancock first floor.

Roland Sanchez : 7th Nov 2012 - 02:38 GMT

I was 5yrs old when this happen my house is the one on the left next to the yellow house with the guy wearing the bright yellow shirt its actually the last picture b4 get to this point of the page n the second to the last pic that shows the hollow shell of the factory with all of the debris in the street yhr car

Roland Sanchez : 7th Nov 2012 - 02:52 GMT

The car with the trunk open which was parked in front of my house is my step dad car l cant believe l found these pictures it takes me back l remember looking out my window n seeing huge flames shooting out 3rd floor 3windows the fire was so intense u can feel it from across the street l started yelling to my sister look look look she ran towards the window to see what was going on thats when she seen n felt the heat thats when she grabbed me n we ran out to safety my moms n my stepdad said they can see the fire from the J train crossing the Williamsburg bridge little did they know it was our house n the our neighborhood in flames

Bb2ru: 20th Dec 2012 - 19:40 GMT

I'm trying to locate a girl who used to go by the name of "Candy" her real name is Christina Payne, used to hang around Broadway and Myrtle Aves in the 70's, had a baby girl who she never met. Her duaghter is trying to locate her mom.Thanks

peggy: hey mike did you have a brothr named vinny

Harold Hock: 18th Apr 2013 - 17:23 GMT

I was not living in ridgewood at the time of the fire. My grandmother lived at 209 Menahen St. My aunt worked in that factory and my cusion lived on bleecher st. next to the hall. But I have nothing but good memories of ridgewood. I lived at 312 Wilson Ave. and went to St. Barbara's graduated in 1960.

patti: 22nd Apr 2013 - 03:48 GMT

I lived at 246 Bleecker Street, Mike you must be the caratola family. You remember the carneys we were neighbors. The worst day we all lost everything. Yes that day I will never forget. I left work fire was on news. Took train home from downtown had to get off at Central Ave station and walk to Knickerbocker station, the smoke was so thick hard to see anything. I remember frantically trying to find my family. Worst memory of my life. But thanked God we were all safe.

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