Eighth Avenue (Brooklyn)
Eighth Avenue is a major street in Brooklyn, New York City. It was formerly an enclave for Norwegians and Norwegian-Americans, who have recently become a minority in the area among the current residents, which include new immigrant colonies, among them Chinese and Arab-speaking peoples. Parts of it have been colloquially re-christened Little Hong Kong in recognition of these newer communities.
The avenue starts at its north at Grand Army Plaza, going through Park Slope for 1 mile (1.6 km). It is interrupted by the Green-Wood Cemetery between 20th and 39th Streets, and after traveling nearly 2 miles (3.2 km) further south through Borough Park and Sunset Park, finally ends at 73rd Street in Bay Ridge.
Lapskaus Boulevard is the nickname of part of Eighth Avenue, in a historically Norwegian working-class section of bordering Bay Ridge, and Sunset Park. In the earlier part of the 20th century, the part of Eighth Avenue in Sunset Park was primarily home to Norwegian immigrants, and it was known as "Little Norway", or Lapskaus Boulevard as the Norwegians termed it. Later on, as Norwegians left, the neighborhood increasingly became abandoned by the 1950s.
The name Lapskaus was derived from a Northern European stew that was a staple food of lower to middle income families. In Norway, lapskaus most often refers to a variation of beef stew. This dish may be called "brun lapskaus" stew made with gravy, "lys lapskaus" stew made with vegetables and pork meat or "suppelapskaus" where the gravy has been substituted by a light beef stock. While the New York City metropolitan area had a Norwegian presence for more than 300 years, immigration to Bay Ridge began to seriously take shape in the 1920s.
Nordic heritage is still apparent in some sections of the neighborhood. There is an annual Syttende Mai Parade, celebrated in honor of Norwegian Constitution Day. The parade features hundreds of people in folk dress who march along Fifth Avenue. The parade ends with the crowning of Miss Norway near the statue of Leif Ericson. The monument was donated in 1939 by Crown Prince Olav, and features a replica of a Viking rune stone located in Tune, Norway. The stone stands on Leif Ericson Square just east of Fourth Avenue.
In 1986, the first Chinese-American grocery store, Winley Supermarket, was opened on the corner of 8th Avenue and 56th Street by three Chinese immigrants. Selling both Asian and American products, this unprecedented supermarket served the indigenous, predominantly white residents of the area and attracted Chinese immigrants from all areas of Brooklyn and Manhattan's Chinatown (唐人街, 紐約華埠).
By 1988, 90% of the original storefronts on Eighth Avenue in Sunset Park were abandoned, but Winley Supermarket prevailed and continued to draw in more Asian visitors. Chinese immigrants then moved into this area - not only new arrivals from China, but also residents of the Manhattan Chinatown in New York City's Manhattan borough, seeking refuge from high rents, who fled to the cheap property costs and rents of Sunset Park and formed the Brooklyn Chinatown.
Since the 1980s, the neighborhood has attracted many Mainland Chinese immigrants, along 8th Avenue from 42nd to 68th Street. Some claim the reason the Chinese settled on 8th Avenue is because in Chinese folklore, the number eight is lucky for financial matters, and "8th Avenue" can be loosely interpreted as "road to wealth". Another explanation is the direct subway ride to Manhattan's Chinatown on the BMT Fourth Avenue Line of the New York City Subway (D N R services).
In Chinese translation, 8th Avenue is called 八大道. The Cantonese pronunciation for 8th Avenue sounds out to Bot Dai Do.
Eighth Avenue is lined with Chinese businesses, including grocery stores, restaurants, Buddhist temples, video stores, bakeries, and community organizations, and even a Hong Kong Supermarket. The Chinatown along this stretch of the avenue in Sunset Park is very well known to be an extension of the original Chinatown in Manhattan. However, that is changing because of the swiftly increasing concentration of the Fuzhou population and the declining Cantonese population; it can very easily be witnessed by the Chinese speaking population that it is increasingly becoming more specifically an extension of the Little Fuzhou on the East Broadway and Eldridge street portion of Manhattan's Chinatown and becoming less of an extension of Manhattan's Chinatown as a whole.
The Eighth Avenue subway station on the N train serves the avenue at 62nd Street, as does the Grand Army Plaza station of the 2 3 4 trains at the eponymous plaza it serves. Also serving the avenue along significant portions of its length is the B70 bus.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 8th Avenue (Brooklyn).|
- Lapskaus Boulevard Walking Tour
- Lapskaus Boulevard - A book about the Norwegian colony in Brooklyn
- Scandinavian East Coast Museum
- 5900 Block of Eighth Avenue