Sunset Park, Brooklyn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Sunset Park (disambiguation).
Sunset Park, Brooklyn
Neighborhood of Brooklyn
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
State New York
City New York City
Borough/County Brooklyn/Kings
 • Council Member Carlos Menchaca
Population (2000)[1]
 • Total 120,441
ZIP code 11220, 11232, 11215
Area code(s) 347, 646, 718, 917, 929
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[2]
Added to NRHP September 15, 1988

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.[3]

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.[4] 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.

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 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 LaGuardiaand Parks Commissioner Robert Moses. All of the pools were constructed largely with funding provided by the Works Progress Administration (WPA)."[5]


The landmark Sunset Play Center
5th Avenue in Sunset Park

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".[6][7] 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 53rd and 66th Streets employed more than 10,000 civilians to ship 80% of all American supplies and troops.[8]

Sunset Park's shipping sector declined after World War II, with the rise of truck-based freight shipping and ports in New Jersey; the growth of suburban sprawl and white flight; the closure of the Army Terminal; and the 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 Parkway replaced the BMT Third Avenue Elevated in 1941 and effectively cut the neighborhood off from the harbor, Because trucks are illegal on parkways, in 1945 Third Avenue was widened to ten lanes at the surface level to accommodate the truck traffic to/from the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel. This widening necessitated the removal of all industrial buildings and housing on the east side of the avenue. The four-lane parkway was replaced in the 1960s with a six-lane Expressway to carry truck and car traffic to/from the then-new Verrazano–Narrows Bridge, which opened in 1964.

Bush Terminal as viewed from the park
Elementary School 24

Until the early 1960s, Sunset Park's main population was made up of immigrant Irish, Italians, Germans, and Nordic Americans. These groups began leaving the neighborhood during the 1970s and 1980s, and they were replaced by new immigrants. Many migrants came from Puerto Rico, immigrants from the Dominican Republic, and Meso-America, as well as other Latin American and Caribbean countries. By 1990, Hispanics comprised 50% of Sunset Park's population, and were rehabilitating property values and developing a thriving community, with an abundance of Hispanic restaurants and businesses along 5th Avenue. People from Gujarat in 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.[9] These churches have a mainly Indian congregation and festive parties in the church halls.

In the 1980s, Sunset Park became the location of 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[10]), 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.[11] By 2009 many Mandarin-speaking originators had moved to Sunset Park.[12]

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]


Celebrating Chinese New Year on 8th Avenue in Brooklyn Chinatown.

The 2000 United States Census [1] 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

The Brooklyn Army Terminal is west of 1st Avenue. Most of the 1st-2nd Avenues area is surrounded by factories, cargo storage and other industrial buildings. 3rd and 4th Avenues are residential, commercial, and industrial. 5th Avenue is mostly a middle class commercial street. 6th Avenue is a quaint residential street, and is the approximate border between the Hispanic area and Brooklyn's Chinatown. 7th and 8th Avenues are the two major hubs of Brooklyn's Chinatown. 9th Avenue (the border with Borough Park) has been mostly a quiet residential street. The cross streets are mostly industrial between 1st and 3rd Avenues but are mostly residential east of 3rd Avenue.


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, B70.

Three subway lines run through Sunset Park. The BMT Fourth Avenue Line (D N R) has stations at 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 minibuses known in Chinese as "VAN 仔" and in English as "Chinese vans".

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b [1]
  2. ^ Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  3. ^ "Brooklyn Community District 7 - New York City Department of City Planning". Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  4. ^ 72nd Precinct, New York City Police Department.
  5. ^ "Sunset Play Center" (PDF). NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. Retrieved 2014-03-14. 
  6. ^ "Brooklyn, New York. October, 1942. Finnish-Americans in Finn Town, 39th Street near 8th Avenue". Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  7. ^ "Finntown’s slice of the Big Apple". Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  8. ^ Scandinavian influence in Brooklyn
  9. ^ "Sunset Park, Brooklyn". New York City Neighborhoods. NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  10. ^ Chinatown: The Socioeconomic Potential of an Urban Enclave — Min Zhou — Google Books. Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  11. ^ Peter Kwong (2009-09-16). "Answers About the Gentrification of Chinatown". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  12. ^ Semple, Kirk. "In Chinatown, Sound of the Future Is Mandarin." The New York Times. October 21, 2009. Retrieved on May 27, 2010.
  13. ^ A sweaty horde crosses Brooklyn Bridge - into chaos

External links[edit]

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