Sunset Park, Brooklyn

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For other uses, see Sunset Park (disambiguation).
Sunset Park, Brooklyn
Neighborhoods of New York City
5th Avenue and dome of St Michael's as seen from Sunset Park
5th Avenue and dome of St Michael's as seen from Sunset Park
Country United States of America
State New York
County Kings County
City New York City
Borough Brooklyn
Government
 • Council Member Carlos Menchaca
Population (2000)[1]
 • Total 120,441
ZIP code 11220, 11232, 11215
Area code(s) 347, 646, 718, 917, 929
The landmark Sunset Play Center

Sunset Park is a neighborhood in the western section of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It is bounded by Park Slope and Greenwood Heights to the north, Borough Park to the east, Bay Ridge to the south, and Upper New York Bay to the west.[2]

The neighborhood is predominantly Puerto Rican, Mexican and Chinese , with other Hispanics, Indians, and Norwegians comprising the area's population as well. The core of the Hispanic population is west of the 5th Avenue, while the center of the Chinese population (now referred to as Brooklyn's Chinatown) is from 7th Avenue east to Borough Park. The area between the 5th and 7th Avenues is mostly mixed. Sunset Park is served by the New York City Police Department's 72nd Precinct.[3] There is a namesake city park within the neighborhood, located between 41st and 44th Streets and 5th and 7th Avenues. The area is also home to the Jackie Gleason Bus Depot.

History and overview[edit]

Early years[edit]

In the heyday of the New York Harbor's dominance of North American shipping during the 19th century, Sunset Park grew rapidly, largely as a result of Irish, Polish, Finnish, and Norwegian immigrant families moving to the area. Portions of the neighborhood became known as "Finn Town".[4][5] The neighborhood grew up around the Bush Terminal of Irving T. Bush, a model industrial park completed in 1895 between 39th and 53d Streets, and continued to grow through World War II, when the Brooklyn Army Terminal between 53d and 66th Streets employed more than 10,000 civilians to ship 80% of all American supplies and troops.[6]

Bush Terminal as viewed from the park

Sunset Park's fortunes began to decline after the war and factors included the rise of truck-based freight shipping and ports in New Jersey, growth of suburban sprawl and white flight, closing of the Army Terminal, and decreasing importance of heavy industry in the northeastern United States. Families who had lived in the community for decades began moving out, and their homes—largely modest but attractive rowhouses—lost value. The construction of the elevated Gowanus Expressway, replacing the BMT Third Avenue Elevated in 1941 effectively cut the neighborhood off from the harbor, which further wounded the area in a fashion often associated with the expressway's builder, power-broker Robert Moses. Until the early 1980s, Sunset Park's main population was made up of Norwegian Americans, who began leaving the neighborhood during the white flight years of the 1970s and 1980s.

5th Avenue, Sunset Park
Celebrating Chinese New Year on 8th Avenue in Brooklyn Chinatown.

Rebirth as "Brooklyn's Little Latin America"[edit]

Sunset Park's second age began with a wave of immigration from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and El Salvador, as well as other Latin American countries. By 1990, Hispanics comprised 50% of Sunset Park's population, rehabilitating property values and developing a thriving community. There is an abundance of Hispanic restaurants and businesses along 5th Avenue.

People from Gujarat, India, have also been settling in and around Sunset Park since 1974. They are mostly Christian and attend three of the area's churches, at 45th Street and 8th Avenue, at 56th Street and 4th Avenue, and at 52nd Street and 8th Avenue.[7] These churches have a mainly Indian congregation and festive parties in the church halls.

Chinatown/Little Fuzhou, Brooklyn[edit]

Main article: Chinatown, Brooklyn

Sunset Park's most recent incarnation is its emergence in the 1980s as the borough's first Chinatown, which is located along 8th Avenue from 42nd to 68th Street and has rapidly attracted many Chinese immigrants. Eighth Avenue is lined with Chinese businesses, including grocery stores, restaurants, Buddhist temples, video stores, bakeries, and community organizations, and even Hong Kong Supermarket. Like the Manhattan Chinatown (of which the Brooklyn Chinatown is an extension[8]), Brooklyn's Chinatown was originally settled by Cantonese immigrants. In recent years, however, to the discontent of many of the Cantonese, an influx of Fuzhou immigrants has been supplanting the Cantonese at a significantly faster rate than in Manhattan's Chinatown; in recent years, this trend has slowed down, with fewer Fuzhouese coming to Sunset Park each year.[9]

Elementary School 24

By 2009 many Mandarin-speaking originators had moved to Sunset Park.[10]

Sunset Park Historic District[edit]

Sunset Park Historic District
Location Roughly bounded by Fourth Ave., Thirty-eighth St., Seventh Ave. and Sixty-fourth St., Brooklyn, New York
Area 280 acres (110 ha)
Architectural style Renaissance Revival, Romanesque Revival, Neo-Grec; Classical Revival
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 88001464[11]
Added to NRHP September 15, 1988

A portion of the neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district, known for its Romanesque and Renaissance Revival architecture. The neighborhood has several individual landmarks designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, including a rare exterior and interior landmark, the Sunset Play Center. As the designation report [12] states, "The Sunset Play Center is one of a group of eleven immense outdoor swimming pools opened in the summer of 1936 in a series of grand ceremonies presided over by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and Parks Commissioner Robert Moses. All of the pools were constructed largely with funding provided by the Works Progress Administration (WPA)."

Recent history[edit]

Sunset Park was hit by the tornadoes of August 8, 2007. Significant damage was reported to homes on 58th Street between 7th and 5th Avenues and 67th to 66th Streets between 5th and 6th Avenues.[13][14][15][16][17][18]

Demographics[edit]

The 2000 United States Census [19] for Sunset Park, Brooklyn approximates that there were 120,441 people living in the neighborhood; 50.5% were male and 49.5% female. The median age was 30.8; 17.8% of residents were children, 73.2% were adults (18 years and over), and 9% were senior citizens (65 or over).

There were 29,723 total housing units, of which 95.8% were occupied, and 75.1% were rented and 24.9% were owned; The median property value was $235,400. The median household income in 1999 U.S. dollars was $30,152, and the median family income was $31,247. The per capita income was $13,141; 27.9% of individuals and 26% of families were living below the poverty line. 93.9% of residents were of one race, while 6.1% were multiracial; Roughly 42.6% of residents were Hispanic or Latino, 36.2% were white, 29% were Asian (mostly Chinese), 3.2% were black/African American, and 24.7% were another race/ethnicity.

Residential block in Sunset Park
St Michael's Church

Architecture[edit]

Sunset Park is well known for the Brooklyn Army Terminal, a set of industrial piers located to the west of 1st Avenue. Most of that area is for cargo ships, with just one pier for people and ferries, causing the 1st Avenue, as well as it's east side, to be surrounded by factories, cargo storage and other industrial buildings. These are very old and thus have been abandoned over time. The 2nd Avenue has similarly old and abandoned industrial buildings, but is a bit more gentrified. The 3rd Avenue and the 4th Avenue are residential, commercial, and industrial, with tire shops, cheap Hispanic shops, and patches of apartment buildings, with some abandoned factories particularly on the 3rd Avenue. The 5th Avenue is mostly a middle class commercial street, with lots of Hispanic shops, bars, and restaurants, while the 6th Avenue is a quaint residential street, and is the approximate border between the Hispanic area and Brooklyn's Chinatown. 7th Avenue and 8th Avenue are the two major hubs of Brooklyn's Chinatown, with the latter being known as the center of Chinatown with everything you want Chinese being there. The 9th Avenue (the border with Borough Park) has been mostly a quiet residential street, however now, Chinese businesses are rapidly opening up on the street. The cross streets are mostly industrial between the 1st Avenue and the 3rd Avenue, while containing row townhouses east of the 3rd Avenue.

Transportation[edit]

Sunset Park is served by road and rail services. The neighborhood has access to three limited-access highways; the I-278 (Gowanus) and NY 27 (Prospect) Expressways as well as the Belt Parkway.

Five New York City Bus bus lines serve Sunset Park: B9, B11, B35, B63, and B70.

Three subway lines run through Sunset Park. The BMT Fourth Avenue Line (D N R) has stations at Prospect Avenue, 25th Street, 36th Street, 45th Street, 53rd Street and 59th Street. The BMT West End Line (D) has a station at Ninth Avenue. The BMT Sea Beach Line (N) has two stations at Eighth Avenue, and Fort Hamilton Parkway.

For some time, SeaStreak service was available at the Brooklyn Army Terminal to Pier 11/Wall Street, the East 34th Street Ferry Landing, the Sandy Hook Bay Marina, or Riis Landing on summer Fridays. Ferry service was created in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks when the Gowanus Expressway and New York City Subway were at capacity. It was free from October 2001 until April 2003, when the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that it could not subsidize the service anymore. Then, until 2011 it was operated by the Red Hook, Brooklyn-based New York Water Taxi company on its Rockaway/Sandy Hook route. The Water Taxi service from the Brooklyn Army Terminal was part of the crucial contingency plan during the 2005 New York City transit strike.

Much of the traffic between Brooklyn Chinatown, Brooklyn Satellite Chinatowns, and Manhattan Chinatown is handled by privately held minibus known in Chinese as "VAN 仔" and in English as "Chinese vans."

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

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Coordinates: 40°38′44″N 74°0′43″W / 40.64556°N 74.01194°W / 40.64556; -74.01194