Park lies between Bay Ridge and Gowanus, stretching from 15th
Street to 65th Street from 9th Avenue to New York Harbor,
Sunset Park is a demographically diverse neighborhood of approximately
150,000 people. Once known as South Brooklyn, and later considered
part of Bay Ridge , Sunset Park was named in 1965 for the
25 acre park built in the 1890's which overlooks the neighborhood.
This beautiful park, located on the slope of Dead Man's Hill
in Brooklyn gives this neighborhood its name. Along with playgrounds,
a pool, basketball and handball courts, the western end of
the park boasts a gorgeous view of the Manhattan skyline.
rural until the mid - 19th century, the area began to grow
rapidly in the late 19th century with the establishment of
the Brooklyn waterfront as a major port for maritime trade.
Fueled by successive waves of immigration and a steady demand
for labor to work in its factories, warehouses, and piers,
Sunset Park quickly became a Mecca for all who sought work.
the turn of the century through the 1960s ships from all countries
sailed into New York
Harbor and lined up for berthing space at one of the many
handsome finger piers that dotted Sunset Park's shoreline.
To meet the cargo handling demands of these ships, thousands
of longshoremen worked on the docks loading and unloading
goods. Several more thousand men and women worked around the
clock within the millions of square feet of manufacturing
space in the area churning out the goods demanded by a growing
U.S. population. On any given day each shift change was marked
by hundreds of workers walking through the streets to and
from their upland homes.
development of the neighborhood was been closely linked with
Bush Terminal, a complex of piers, warehouses and factory
lofts, built by Irving Bush in 1890 and the Brooklyn Army
Terminal built in 1919. In 1941 the Gowanus Expressway was
built, connecting Sunset Park with surrounding parts of
New York City. The Gowanus effectively bisected the residential
and industrial communities and separated the neighborhood
from its waterfront. As a consequence, 3rd Avenue quickly
lost its commercial appeal and 5th Avenue soon became the
street of choice for shopping. Nowadays the Gowanus Expressway
is a busy thoroughfare moving in excess of 75,000 trucks and
cars through Sunset Park per day.
Army Terminal Designed by Cass Gilbert and completed in 1919
as a military ocean supply facility. During WWII as much as
sixty three million tons of supplies and 80 % of the troops
sent overseas passed through it. Since 1984, the Terminal
has been converted as space for small businesses.
Sunset Park neighborhood has gone through many ethnic changes
and is a microcosm of many of the immigration waves that transformed
the city of New York. Following the Irish in the mid 1800s,
a Scandinavian community (mostly from Finland and Norway)
was among the first ethnic groups to establish itself in Sunset
Park starting in the late 1800s leaving an imprint which still
persists today both in residents and institutions like the
Lutheran Medical Center. The apartment house at 816 Forty-third
Street, established by a finnish co-operative and opened in
1916, is supposedly the first co-operative dwelling established
in New York City.
1880, a Polish community took root near Third Avenue and 20th
street. The Ansonia Clock factory employed many Polish men
and many found work in the nearby Greenwood cemetery at fourth
and 25th street. By 1890, a largely Catholic Polish community
was established along Third Avenue in Sunset Park. Our Lady
of Czestochowa was a center of worship in the community. Around
the turn of the century, Italians moved into the neighborhood
followed by Puerto Ricans after World War II and today Chinese
and other Asians.
history behind the development of the waterfront is inseparable
from the human history of the waves of Dutch, Irish, Polish,
Scandinavian, Italian, Latino, and Asian immigrants who have,
at various times, made Sunset Park their home in order to
benefit from and to advance the area's economic opportunities.
Their energy and creativity have been one of the major driving
forces behind Sunset Park's long and significant history of
economic success leading to the development of its infrastructure,
its transportation linkages, its historical role in maritime
trade, and the incredible density and diversity of its industry.
Nowadays, as in the. past, the area continues to hold much
promise for individuals and entrepreneurs looking to create
the 1980s the neighborhood has become home to a large Chinese
population, as well as Latin American and Indian.
Notable Sites in the area;
Brooklyn Development Corporation and the development of two
industrial centers at Bush Terminal (32nd to 41st Streets),
formerly the site of visiting circuses and Wild West Shows,
and the Brooklyn Army Terminal (58th to 63rd streets), which
during World War II was the departure point for more than
80 percent of American supplies and troops.
Cemetery Built by David Bates Douglass in 1838 as a rural
retreat where visitors could contemplate death as a part of
nature. Among those buried at Greenwood are William M. "Boss"
Tweed, Samuel F. B. Morse, Margaret Sanger, Leonard Bernstein
and Horace Greeley.
Churches; Our Lady of Perpetual Help (5th Avenue and 59th
Street) Brooklyn's largest Roman Catholic Church. St. Michael's
Roman Catholic Church Notable for its egg-shaped domes atop
a 200-foot tower.
Ellen M. Brooklyn! An Illustrated History
University Press, 1996.