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Bushwick '77: The All Hands Fire
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The All Hands Fire was something that you remember. Prior to 9/11, it was the biggest fire ever fought by the modern FDNY. It took 55 units of firefighters from Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn to put out the fire started by three kids playing in an old abandoned knitting factory.
But in Bushwick, they know how to make success from tragedy. CB4 chairwoman Chineda Carter, and CB4 district manager John Derezewski , seeing the open land, knew just what should go there
The NYPD needed a new headquarters to replace their historic but cramped headquarters on Wilson and Dekalb Aves. They convinced the NYPD to relocate here, and ideally central location that has served them well to this day.
Its tempting to look at the All Hands Fire was a positive turning point for Bushwick, since it brought the city and world recognize the desperate straits things were in here—remember, this fire came just 3 days after the NYC Blackout 0f 1977, when rioting and looting had destroyed Broadway.
And money did flow in after that. And there were changes in policy that led to the Bushwick of today, 30 years later.
But I remember what Rick Casuso, a long time resident, told me: “The fire was not the beginning of the rebirth it caused a lot of people to leave, scared a way a lot of good people that were willing to stay”.
Different people remember it differently. But the point is: remember it. What it took to make this place you see today.
(special props to Randy Barron and the photo archive crew at FDNY for releasing these photos to me. Its been 30 years since some of these negatives have seen the light of day. Wish I could tell you more about who took them, but he sure had a great eye!)
For more, visit www.upfromflames.com after June 1st. And check us out at the Brooklyn Historical Society this summer!
This article has been viewed 30670 times in the last 6 years
upfromflames: 1st May 2007 - 03:17 GMT
This is my new google map, built for a June 2nd walking tour. But you can find this and other interesting locations for learning all about Bushwick History 77-2007.
upfromflames: 1st May 2007 - 03:29 GMT
You can also find a panoramic map here. Not as developed, but coming along....
joey: 1st May 2007 - 05:33 GMT
there are few pictures better to photograph than a squirting fire hose, or two
Don Canham, Lt. NYFD Ret.: 7th May 2007 - 02:12 GMT
That fire was no "all hands" fire. It was a Boro Call. A boro call is when you run out of enough companies to handle the fire and resort to using companies from other boros, hence a "boro call". I worked out of E-277 on Knickerbocker Avenue between Gates and Palmetto Streetfor a year in a unit called the TCU, Tactical control Unit. As a fireman I went by that corner anywhere from one to fifteen times a tour. After making lieutenant I went to stand by at the aftermath. We also went by Schwaben Hall as many times. We wondered if they would burn down the hall. They did and the surrounding neighborhood was one of the busiest in Brooklyn. Hopefully Bushwick can regain its former glory.
john urbanski: 4th Jun 2007 - 06:20 GMT
I remember the fire very well. Was in front of my house about a mile or so away and seeing a great deal of smoke coming from that direction. Grabbed my camera and headed for the area.
Jose Rosa: 7th Feb 2008 - 04:08 GMT
I was seven when the fire took place and I didnt live far and i can still remember the intense heat from the fire, it was sad day...
mike: 9th Aug 2008 - 09:38 GMT
I lost my home in this fire and these pictures bring back sad memories of that day.I come from a family of 8 children and we basically lost everything.That knitting mill was abandoned for years.I am 51 yrs old and will never forget it.My address was 248 Bleecker St which you can see in these pictures.
anon (user1.cablevision.com): 2nd Dec 2008 - 11:38 GMT
Mike(comment Aug.9th, 9:38), can you email me firstname.lastname@example.org We would like to do something with the fire, even though it's been years. Thank you.
TFSCharlie: 29th Mar 2009 - 01:39 GMT
When L-124 pulled up, the heat was intense; Chauffeur went back into rig to reposition it. Windows were melting & he burned his hands on the steering wheel. Builings 50 to 90 feet away from original fire building spontaneously combusted & burst into flames due to the heat waves. I got OTJ in November 1977 & heard about this fire from many senior members since I was assigned to a company nearby.
Peter: 29th Mar 2009 - 01:51 GMT
TFSCharlie, i think i speak for many of us here- id love to hear more of your stories like this... first-hand tales of summer 1977 in bushwick always draw me in, and theyre growing increasingly rare in the neighborhood...
Brian: 26th May 2009 - 22:52 GMT
To....Lt .Don canham......did you work with Ed Yany in TCU
mike: 13th Jun 2009 - 22:50 GMT
I was involved in this fire I lived at 248 Bleecker St.It was the saddest day of my life.We lost everything,all I had left were the clothes on my back and many of my friends ended up losing there homes that day.It was over 100 degrees and no water in the hydrants that knitting mill was abandoned for years and once that went up it was all over.It was a rough time for everyone.It was the neighborhood that time forgot.
upfromflames: 14th Jun 2009 - 03:51 GMT
I can't thank you enough for leaving your words here. I'll make sure your experience is recorded for others to read about. If you' like to share any photos or memories, please feel free to contact me at my gmail address, or though www.upfromflames.com
upfromflames: 16th Nov 2009 - 00:03 GMT
one week earlier, actually. the fire happened Monday, the 18th of July. The blackout was from Wednesday to Friday. I just interviewed a guy who lost his house in the fire. My condolences to all who suffered in this way, like Mike, Carlos, and the 65 other families that day.
anon (cpe-67-244-89-152.nyc.res.rr.com): 26th Jul 2010 - 01:55 GMT
I was one of the first to call 911 for this fire. I was just 18 and working in the liquor store on Myrtle Ave between Green & Bleecker St. My Aunt and family lost everything they had while they were on vacation. They lived on Knickerbocker between Bleecker & MEnahan
bill: 29th Jul 2010 - 21:24 GMT
i remember this fire well. in my early days. it took a lot of people and units to control
Bklyn Pete: 4th Apr 2011 - 06:33 GMT
I was there that day, remember it well. It was one of the hottest days of the year, when a couple of Spanish kids lit a fire in the abandoned factory at Knick. and Bleecker. The flames shot across the streets and torched all the nearby buildings on all four sides. The 83rd Precinct then relocated there. I just read a book by one of those cops called "THE JUSTICE GARDEN" in it he talks a lot about the Bushwick and Coney Island sections. A good read if you come from those areas, or Brooklyn period.
Victor velez: 12th Jan 2012 - 05:04 GMT
I remember this fire very well,I was 10 years old, I lived at 236 Linden St at the corner of knickerbocker... I will always remember the heat, the smoke and the smell from that fire. I remember running down and seeing that the old church was destroyed along with that huge factory... The news was there.... Wow that smell lingered for weeks....
Bb2ru: 19th Dec 2012 - 14:49 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
Lil: 8th Mar 2013 - 23:47 GMT
I remember this all so well. I lived on Bleecker Street between Central & Evergreen Avenue. I thank you for posting the story and pictures for even though it was a saddened day it has bought back many memories. I would like to know if you have any pictures of Knickerbocker Avenue during the late 60s through early 80s? I also would like to know how many people remember Nick's Pizzeria on Knickerbocker Avenue close to Himord Street? My brother is trying to tell me that there was no such pizzeria, I recall it very vividly.
Bb2ru: 12th Mar 2013 - 14:21 GMT
Nick's pizzeria was one of the best, your right it was on Knick and Himrod
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