Sunset Park, Brooklyn


Sunset Park, Brooklyn

Sunset Park is a neighborhood in the southwestern section of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, USA. According to the New York City Department of Planning the neighborhood's boundaries are 15th Street with Park Slope and Windsor Terrace to the north, 9th Avenue and Borough Park to the west, 65th Street and Bay Ridge to the south and Upper New York Bay to the west. Sunset Park also encompasses the sub-neighborhood of Greenwood Heights located on the slopes of Green-Wood Cemetery in the northern section of the neighborhood.

There is a namesake city park within the neighborhood, located between 41st and 44th Streets and 5th and 7th Avenues, which is the second highest point in Brooklyn. The hilly terrain of the park affords visitors magnificent views of Downtown Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge, Lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, Staten Island and New Jersey beyond. The "main drag" of the neighborhood lies along 5th Avenue. The area is also home to the Jackie Gleason Bus Depot.

Brief history and overview

Early years

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, and Norwegian immigrant families moving to the area. 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.

Sunset Park's fortunes began to decline after the war. The rise of truck-based freight shipping and ports in New Jersey, the growth of suburban sprawl and white flight, the closing of the Army Terminal, and the decreasing importance of heavy industry in the American northeast, all became factors. Families who had lived in the community for decades began moving out, and the homes in the neighborhood — largely modest but attractive rowhouses — lost value. The construction of the Gowanus Expressway 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.

Rebirth

Sunset Park's second age began with a wave of immigration from Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, 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. Many people also immigrated from India and China.

Brooklyn's Chinatown

Since the 1980s, the neighborhood has attracted many East Asian immigrants, centered on an area now known as "Brooklyn's Chinatown", along 8th Avenue from 42nd to 68th Street, where the city's third-largest Chinese community (after Manhattan's Chinatown and Flushing, Queens) can be found. 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 N/R and D lines.

8th Avenue is lined with Chinese businesses, including grocery stores, restaurants, Buddhist temples, video stores, bakeries, and community organizations, and even Hong Kong Supermarket. Some Chinese businesses are also appearing on parts of 7th Avenue, and east on 9th Avenue. Recently in the community, the issues of overcrowding and more efficient sanitation have been raised. A plan was proposed to turn 8th Avenue into a one-way street due to traffic congestion, but this has not been confirmed to happen anytime soon.

In between

People from Gujarat, India, have also been settling in and around the Sunset Park area since 1974. They are mainly Christian and mostly go to three of the area's churches. The churches are at 45th Street and 7th Avenue, 56th Street and 4th Avenue, and 52nd Street and 8th Avenue. These churches have a mainly Indian congregation, and many times have very festive parties in the church halls. As of the year 2000, many of them have been moving to nearby Staten Island.

Demographics

The 2000 Census [http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/SAFFFacts?_event=Search&geo_id=&_geoContext=&_street=&_county=11220&_cityTown=11220&_state=&_zip=11220&_lang=en&_sse=on&pctxt=fph&pgsl=010] for Sunset Park, Brooklyn approximately shows that there were 120,441 people living in the neighborhood; 50.5% male and 49.5% were 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 US 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", Caucasian/Arab, 29% were Asian (mostly Chinese), 3.2% were "black" or African American, and 24.7% were "some other race".

Recent History

Sunset Park was hit by the 2007 Brooklyn tornado on August 8. Significant damage was reported to homes on 58th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.

Transportation

Sunset Park is extensively served by road, rail, and ferry service. Sunset Park has access to three expressways; the Gowanus Expressway/Interstate 278, the Prospect Expressway/NY-27 and the Belt Parkway.

Six NYCTA bus lines serve Sunset Park: B9, B11, B35, B37, B63, B70.

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

Freight trains run on embedded tracks along 1st and 2nd Avenues and on the old Long Island Rail Road Bay Ridge Branch rails which are adjacent to the BMT Sea Beach Line.

Ferry service is available at 58th Street and 1st Avenue at the Brooklyn Army Terminal to the Wall Street Ferry Pier at the Financial District in Manhattan or the US Coast Guard's Riis Landing in Roxbury, Queens during the rush hour and on summer weekends. 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. Today it is operated by the Red Hook, Brooklyn-based New York Water Taxi company on its Rockaway Beach and Commuter 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 and Manhattan Chinatown is handled by privately held vans known in English colloquially as "Chinese vans". They cruise down 8th Avenue from 48th street to the 65th Street onramp to Gowanus Expressway/I-278. These vans can be seen during commute hours picking up and unloading passengers on 8th Avenue. As early as 2004, additional vans took passengers to Flushing, Queens. Despite prices of $5 per passenger, these vans were the real contingency plan for people living in Brooklyn Chinatown during the 2005 New York City transit strike.

See also

* Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
* List of Brooklyn, New York neighborhoods
* Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow (OBT)

External links

* [http://sunset-park.com/main/index2.html Sunset-Park.com] Information about Sunset Park attractions, upcoming events, news, neighbhorhood history, etc.
* [http://www.nyc.gov/html/sbs/html/bid.html Sunset Park Business Improvement District]
* [http://www.flickr.com/groups/sunsetpark/ - Pictures of Sunset Park, Brooklyn]
* [http://web.honorscollege.cuny.edu/student-projects/2005/neighborhoods/14/ Sunset Park "A New Perspective"] from CUNY Baruch College
* [http://www.mta.info Metropolitan Transportation Authority]
* [http://www.nywatertaxi.com New York Water Taxi website]
* [http://imdb.com/title/tt0117784/ The Movie Sunset Park] at IMDB
* [http://gunsetpark.blogspot.com/ Pictures of the neighborhood]


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