Sunset Park, Brooklyn
Sunset Park is a neighborhood in the southwestern part of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, bounded by Park Slope and Green-Wood Cemetery to the north, Borough Park to the east, Bay Ridge to the south, and Upper New York Bay to the west. The neighborhood is named after a 24.5-acre (9.9 ha) public park of the same name.
Location in New York City
|City||New York City|
|Community District||Brooklyn 7|
|• Council Member||Carlos Menchaca|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
|Area code||718, 347, 929, and 917|
Sunset Park Historic District
|Location||Roughly bounded by the Upper New York Bay, Thirty-sixth St., Ninth Ave. and Sixty-fifth St., Brooklyn, New York|
|Area||280 acres (110 ha)|
|Architect||Pohlman & Patrick; Et al.|
|Architectural style||Renaissance Revival, Romanesque Revival, Neo-Grec; Classical Revival|
|NRHP reference #||88001464|
|Added to NRHP||September 15, 1988|
Sunset Park's population is composed of Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and other Hispanics, in addition to Chinese, Indians and Norwegians. The core of the Hispanic population is west of 5th Avenue, while the Chinese population straddles the area from 7th Avenue eastward to Borough Park, one of Brooklyn's fastest-growing Chinatowns.
Sunset Park is part of Brooklyn Community District 7 and its primary ZIP Codes are 11220 and 11232. It is patrolled by the 72nd Precinct of the New York City Police Department. Fire services are provided by the New York City Fire Department's Engine Company 201 and Engine Company 228/Ladder Company 114. Politically, Sunset Park is represented by the New York City Council's 38th District.
The area which is now Sunset Park was purchased from the Canarsee Indians by Dutch settlers in the 1640s. Their first farms were laid out along the waterfront. The area was still primarily agricultural in the 1830s, at which time streets were laid out and development began, and remained that way until the middle of the 19th century. A ferry pier and railroad terminal, popular as a transfer point for those traveling to Coney Island, was built in the 1870s.
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" and "Little Norway". The Finns brought with them the concept of cooperative housing, and the apartment house at 816 43rd Street is said to be the first cooperative apartment building in New York City. The Irish subjected the other groups, especially the non-Catholic Finns and Norwegians, to harassment and abuse, which resulted in some of the latter leaving the area.
Residential construction boomed in the late 19th and early 20th century amid real estate speculation initiated by the construction of the park. Alongside tenements and apartment houses stemming from the nationally prosperous 1914-1929 era, it was characterized by "limestones and brownstones, as well and brick and wood rowhouses". The neighborhood grew up around the Bush Terminal of Irving T. Bush, a model industrial park between 39th and 53rd Streets completed in 1895. Dubbed "Bush's Folly" at the time, as people had a hard time believing it could compete with the port of Manhattan, it continued to grow through World War II. During the conflict, the adjacent Brooklyn Army Terminal (situated between 53rd and 66th Streets) employed more than 10,000 civilians to ship 80% of all American supplies and troops.
Slumlike conditions proliferated in the vicinity of First and Second Avenues as early as World War I. However, following the depredations of the Great Depression, the western section of the neighborhood began to decline in earnest after 1940. The construction of the elevated Gowanus Parkway, which replaced the elevated BMT Third Avenue Line in 1941, precipitated the immediate depreciation of the neighborhood's longtime commercial artery, hastening the socioeconomic bifurcation of the area and the emergence of Eighth Avenue as the Norwegian community's "Lapskaus Boulevard." With the rise of truck-based freight shipping and ports in New Jersey; the decreasing importance of heavy industry in the northeastern United States; and the decommissioning of the Army Terminal in 1966, Sunset Park's shipping sector entered a period of decline after World War II.
In 1945, Third Avenue was widened to ten lanes at the surface level to accommodate truck traffic to and from the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel. This widening necessitated the removal of all industrial buildings and housing on the east side of the avenue, decimating the last vestiges of the business district built around the Third Avenue Line. The four-lane Gowanus Parkway was replaced in the 1960s with a six-lane expressway of the same name to carry truck and car traffic to and from the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, which opened in 1964. During this period, Fourth Avenue's sidewalks were narrowed by roughly eight feet to further accommodate the glut of vehicular traffic.
While these economic and infrastructural changes occurred, the neighborhood's population began to diversify. Abetted by the transient Army Terminal population, Third Avenue and the waterfront district soon evolved into a haven for prostitution and drug use, a milieu evoked by Hubert Selby Jr. in Last Exit to Brooklyn (1964). This trend coincided with widespread white flight to adjoining areas (including Bay Ridge, Staten Island and inner suburbs in the New York metropolitan area) and the initial coalescence of the neighborhood's Puerto Rican community.
As families who had lived in the area for decades began moving out, the housing stock lost value. Most of the housing inventory in the waterfront district failed to comply with a 1961 zoning resolution that subjected 2,000 residences to "rigid prohibitions against reconstruction [...], improvements [or] certain kinds of repairs"; this rapidly hastened predatory blockbusting and redlining practices. Due to corruption in the banking and real-estate industries, and in the Federal Housing Administration, many housing units were soon lost to abandonment. In The Power Broker, the 1974 biography of urban planner Robert Moses, author Robert Caro noted that following the Gowanus Expressway's construction, elements of blight extended to the comparatively affluent, brownstone-dominated tracts between Fourth and Sixth Avenues by the 1960s. According to Louis Winnick, over "200 small properties and 40 apartment buildings" remained abandoned as late as 1977, while "the blocks below (and often above) Fourth Avenue were defaced by the stigmata of dereliction."
Following a 1966 petition drive, Sunset Park was formally designated as a poverty area under the aegis of the Office of Economic Opportunity. As part of this process, it received its current moniker and boundaries; until this point, "the blocks of 17th to 39th Streets were called South Brooklyn, while 39th Street to 65th Street were considered part of lower Bay Ridge." With aid from federal, state, and local agencies, Sunset Park slowly began its rebirth, helped by the purchase by new investors of Bush Terminal in 1965 and its conversion into an industrial park; the gradual loosening of the 1961 zoning regulations; the expansion of Lutheran Medical Center to the waterfront American Machine and Foundry factory in 1969; the 1987 re-opening of the Brooklyn Army Terminal; and ongoing immigration into the area. By the 1980s and 1990s, the neighborhood was being reborn.
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, as well as to 67th to 66th Streets between 5th and 6th Avenues in Bay Ridge.
In February 2016, Sunset Park West was one of four neighborhoods featured in an article in The New York Times about "New York’s Next Hot Neighborhoods". Factors cited in the article included redevelopment along the waterfront in Industry City and Bush Terminal, the 2014 opening of Bush Terminal Park, and the use of warehouses as party and event spaces. According to real-estate sources, all of these business- and office-related activities will "drive residential momentum" in the western part of Sunset Park. Some in the neighborhood have expressed fears of the gentrification that could follow in the wake of these developments.
The 2000 United States Census for the zip code 11220, which encompasses most of 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.
Sunset Park is divided into two neighborhood tabulation areas, Sunset Park West and Sunset Park East, which collectively comprise the population of Sunset Park. Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Sunset Park was 126,381, a change of 7,919 (6.3%) from the 118,462 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 1,854.8 acres (750.6 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 68.1 inhabitants per acre (43,600/sq mi; 16,800/km2).
The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 14.5% (18,321) White, 2.3% (2,908) African American, 0.2% (195) Native American, 35.2% (44,538) Asian, 0% (32) Pacific Islander, 0.3% (335) from other races, and 1.1% (1,398) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 46.4% (58,654) of the population.
The entirety of Community Board 7 had 132,721 inhabitants as of NYC Health's 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 82.6 years.:2, 20 This is higher than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods.:53 (PDF p. 84) Most inhabitants are middle-aged adults and youth: 22% are between the ages of 0–17, 39% between 25–44, and 21% between 45–64. The ratio of college-aged and elderly residents was lower, both at 9%.:2
As of 2016, the median household income in Community Board 7 was $56,787. In 2018, an estimated 29% of Sunset Park residents lived in poverty, compared to 21% in all of Brooklyn and 20% in all of New York City. One in twelve residents (8%) were unemployed, compared to 9% in the rest of both Brooklyn and New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 57% in Sunset Park, higher than the citywide and boroughwide rates of 52% and 51% respectively. Based on this calculation, as of 2018[update], Sunset Park is considered to be gentrifying.:7
Until the early 1960s, Sunset Park's main population was made up of immigrant Irish, Italians, Germans, and Nordic Americans. An early ethnic enclave in Sunset Park was Finntown, an enclave of Finnish immigrants arriving during the first decades of the 20th century. In 1916, Finntown became the site of the first non-profit housing cooperative in the United States when the Finnish Home Building Association built two cooperative houses, named Alku and Alku Toinen, at 816 and 826 43rd Street.
The European immigrants and their descendants began leaving the neighborhood during the 1970s and 1980s, and they were replaced by new immigrants. In the 1960s, migrants came from Puerto Rico, many immigrants from the Dominican Republic, and Meso-America, as well as other Latin American and Caribbean countries came. By 1990, Hispanics constituted 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. These churches have a mainly Indian congregation and festive parties in the church halls. The ethnic diversity of the neighborhood is celebrated annually with the Sunset Park Parade of Flags down 5th Avenue.
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, community organizations, and a Hong Kong Supermarket.
Like the Manhattan Chinatown (of which the Brooklyn Chinatown is an extension), Brooklyn's Chinatown was originally settled by Cantonese immigrants. In the 2000s, however, an influx of Fuzhou immigrants has been supplanting the Cantonese at a significantly faster rate than in Manhattan's Chinatown; this trend has since slowed down, with fewer Fuzhouese coming to Sunset Park each year. By 2009 many Mandarin-speaking originators had moved to Sunset Park.
The areas west of Third Avenue are zoned mostly for light industrial usage and as such, mainly contain factories, cargo storage and other industrial buildings. The areas east of Third Avenue, as well as a small area west of Third Avenue between 54th and 57th Streets, are zoned for low-rise residential building, including townhouses, brownstones, rowhouses, and short apartment structures. Generally, commercial areas are restricted to the ground floors of buildings on Third, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, and Eighth Avenues. Light industrial zoning is also present south of 61st and 62nd Streets.
Architecture and landmarksEdit
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. It is the largest historic district on the NRHP in the Northeast United States. The Brooklyn Army Terminal, a massive former warehouse turned industrial park, is located west of Second Avenue between 59th and 65th Streets and is individually listed on the NRHP. At its construction in 1919, it was the world's largest concrete building complex.
The neighborhood also has several individual landmarks designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, including St. Michael's Church, the Harde & Short-designed Dr. Maurice T. Lewis House (one of the firm's few non-Manhattan projects and the neighborhood's only freestanding mansion), the Sunset Park Courthouse, the Former 18th Police Precinct Station House and Stable, and the Sunset Park Play Center.
Dominated by three-story bayed rowhouses that were initially envisaged as "inexpensive imitations of the stately four- and five-story townhouses [...] of Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Fort Greene and Park Slope", the neighborhood's "brownstone belt" (including homes with brownstone, sandstone, limestone, iron and ornamental stone-brick facades) was developed between 1885 and 1910. Although many houses have shed internal architectural elements of the era, it continues to encompass a substantial swath of the residential stock between Fourth and Sixth Avenues south of 40th Street. However, brownstone rows exist as far north as 420-424 36th Street and as far east as 662 56th Street, while several two- and three-story bayed brick rows (notably exemplified by 240-260 45th Street) are situated south of Fourth Avenue, where frame and frame-brick houses (often clad in vinyl siding or Formstone) are historically prevalent.
Police and crimeEdit
Sunset Park is patrolled by the 72nd Precinct of the NYPD, located at 830 4th Avenue. The 72nd Precinct ranked 16th safest out of 69 patrol areas for per-capita crime in 2010. Total crime has decreased since the 1990s, and the 72nd Precinct is one of the safest precincts in Brooklyn as of 2010[update]. With a non-fatal assault rate of 37 per 100,000 people, Sunset Park's rate of violent crimes per capita is less than that of the city as a whole. The incarceration rate of 289 per 100,000 people is lower than that of the city as a whole.:8
The 72nd Precinct has a lower crime rate than in the 1990s, with crimes across all categories having decreased by 79.1% between 1990 and 2018. The precinct saw 2 murders, 32 rapes, 185 robberies, 209 felony assaults, 153 burglaries, 468 grand larcenies, and 77 grand larcenies auto in 2018.
Preterm and teenage births are less common in Sunset Park than in other places citywide. In Sunset Park, there were 27 preterm births per 1,000 live births (compared to 87 per 1,000 citywide), and 7.9 teenage births per 1,000 live births (compared to 19.3 per 1,000 citywide).:11 Sunset Park has a relatively high population of residents who are uninsured, or who receive healthcare through Medicaid. In 2018, this population of uninsured residents was estimated to be 22%, which is higher than the citywide rate of 12%.:14
The concentration of fine particulate matter, the deadliest type of air pollutant, in Sunset Park is 0.0085 milligrams per cubic metre (8.5×10−9 oz/cu ft), higher than the citywide and boroughwide averages.:9 Twelve percent of Sunset Park residents are smokers, which is slightly lower than the city average of 14% of residents being smokers.:13 In Sunset Park, 24% of residents are obese, 11% are diabetic, and 27% have high blood pressure—compared to the citywide averages of 24%, 11%, and 28% respectively.:16 In addition, 18% of children are obese, compared to the citywide average of 20%.:12
Eighty-seven percent of residents eat some fruits and vegetables every day, which is equal to the city's average of 87%. In 2018, 74% of residents described their health as "good," "very good," or "excellent," less than the city's average of 78%.:13 For every supermarket in Sunset Park, there are 45 bodegas.:10
There are several hospitals and medical clinics in the Sunset Park area, the largest of which is NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn. Maimonides Medical Center is located in nearby Borough Park.:19–20
Post offices and ZIP codesEdit
Sunset Park is covered by two ZIP Codes: most of the neighborhood south of 44th Street is part of 11220 while Industry City and everything north of 44th Street 11232. The United States Post Office operates the Sunset Station at 6102 5th Avenue, the Bay Ridge Station at 5501 7th Avenue, and the Bush Terminal Station at 900 3rd Avenue.
Parks and recreationEdit
Sunset Park's namesake is a 24.5-acre (9.9 ha) public park located between 41st and 44th Streets and 5th and 7th Avenues. The park's elevated location offers views of New York Harbor; Manhattan; the Statue of Liberty; and, more distantly, the hills of Staten Island and the U.S. state of New Jersey. The modern-day park contains a playground, recreation center, and pool. The latter two comprise the Sunset Play Center, which is a New York City designated landmark and one of the few exterior and interior landmarks designated by the city.
The land for the park was acquired in 1891 through 1905 and initially contained a pond, golf course, rustic shelter, and carousel. These features were removed in 1935-1936 when the current neoclassical/Art Deco style pool was built by Aymar Embury II during a Works Progress Administration project. According to the Play Center's landmark designation report, the facility "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."
The Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, a 14-mile (23 km) off-street path, runs on the waterfront of Sunset Park. The greenway is planned to connect neighborhoods along Brooklyn's waterfront, running through the Industry City complex to the 23-acre (9.3 ha) Owls Head Park in Bay Ridge, which is also served by the Sunset Park Greenway. One component of the greenway is Bush Terminal Piers Park, a green space between 43rd and 50th Streets that contains a pedestrian and bike path as well as baseball and soccer fields. Bush Terminal Piers Park opened in November 2014.
Sunset Park also has several smaller playgrounds:
- D'Emic Playground at Third Avenue between 34th and 35th Streets
- Gonzalo Plasencia Playground at Third Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets
- John Allen Payne Playground at Third Avenue between 64th and 65th Streets
- Martin Luther Playground at Second Avenue between 55th and 56th Streets
- Pena Herrera Playground at Third Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets
- Rainbow Playground at Sixth Avenue between 55th and 56th Streets
Sunset Park generally has a lower ratio of college-educated residents than the rest of the city. While 30% of residents age 25 and older have a college education or higher, 41% have less than a high school education and 29% are high school graduates or have some college education. By contrast, 40% of Brooklynites and 38% of city residents have a college education or higher.:6 The percentage of Sunset Park students excelling in reading and math has been increasing, with reading achievement rising from 44 percent in 2000 to 54 percent in 2011, and math achievement rising from 39 percent to 67 percent within the same time period.
Sunset Park's rate of elementary school student absenteeism is lower than the rest of New York City. In Sunset Park, 9% of elementary school students missed twenty or more days per school year, compared to the citywide average of 20% of students.:24 (PDF p. 55):6 Additionally, 75% of high school students in Sunset Park graduate on time, equal to the citywide average of 75% of students.:6
Sunset Park contains the following public elementary schools which serve grades K-5 unless otherwise indicated:
- PS 1 The Bergen (grades PK-5)
- PS 24
- PS 69 Vincent D Grippo School
- PS 94 The Henry Longfellow
- PS 169 Sunset Park
- PS 310
- PS 503 The School Of Discovery
- PS 506 The School Of Journalism And Technology
- PS 971
The following public middle schools serve grades 6-8:
The following public high school serves grades 9-12:
- PS 371 Lillian L Rashkis
As of 2017[update], five new schools are being planned for Sunset Park. These include the 676-seat PS/IS 746, as well as three as-yet-unnamed new schools at 36th Street/5th Avenue, 59th Street/3rd Avenue, and 46th Street/8th Avenue. In addition, the old Former 18th Police Precinct Station House and Stable will be integrated into a new 300-seat school being built at the site.
The Sunset Park branch of the Brooklyn Public Library is located at 5108 Fourth Avenue, though since 2018, has been housed in a temporary location. It was founded in 1905 and was initially located in a two-story, Classical Revival structure, a Carnegie library designed by Lord and Hewlett. The old library was demolished and rebuilt between 1970 and 1972. A redevelopment of the library site was proposed in 2014 and approved in 2017; the plan calls for a 21,000-square-foot (2,000 m2) library and 49 affordable housing units to be constructed at 5108 Fourth Avenue. In May 2018, a temporary branch was opened at 4201 Fourth Avenue, between 42nd and 43rd Streets.
Buses and subwaysEdit
Several subway routes run through Sunset Park. The BMT Fourth Avenue Line (D, N, and R trains) has stations at 36th Street, 45th Street, 53rd Street and 59th Street. The BMT West End Line (D train) has a station at Ninth Avenue. The BMT Sea Beach Line (N train) has one station in Sunset Park at Eighth Avenue.
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.
In the aftermath of subway disruptions arising from Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012, SeaStreak began running a route from Rockaway Park, Queens, to Pier 11 and the East 34th Street ferry terminal. The route was renewed several times through mid-2014, but was discontinued on October 31, 2014 because of a lack of funding.
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