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City Living: Sunnyside
Frank Sinatra must have been referring to a well-known Queens neighborhood when he urged listeners to direct their feet to the sunny side of the street. And he was probably in on a really good real estate tip.
Sunnyside, the quaint and affordable neighborhood in western Queens, is situated in a prime location just minutes from Manhattan, but seems like a world away.
Ask the locals, they’ll tell you: “It’s so close to everything but you don’t feel like you are; it’s the best of both worlds and that’s what makes it unique,” said Carmela Massimo, associate broker at Welcome Home Real Estate in Sunnyside.
Daniel Yi, a local business owner who grew up in the neighborhood, echoed her statement.
“It definitely doesn’t feel like it’s a neighborhood that’s so close to the city; it feels like a distinct Queens area in terms of the community and it being so diverse,” he said.
At the Lance Corporal Thomas P. Noonan Jr. playground, adults sit around reading, people-watching and catching up, and children and teenagers participate in games as the Empire State Building looms in the backdrop serving as a grand reminder that the charming nabe is only a few train stops from Midtown on the 7 train.
Settled snugly among Long Island City, Astoria, Woodside and Greenpoint, Sunnyside boomed after the opening of the Queensboro Bridge in the early 1900s. Back then, many Irish immigrants moved into the area.
Remnants of times passed still remain in the neighborhood by way of old street names which coexist with now numbered streets, pubs and old-timers, who while sitting playing chess at Noonan Park will not hesitate to pause and give short history lessons filled with nostalgia.
Now, the jagged Queens neighborhood is a brimming melting pot of Hispanics, Caucasians, Koreans, Chinese, Turkish, Indians, Romanians and Irish. And there’s a restaurant for every ethnicity.
The neighborhood is saturated with apartment buildings and multifamily homes along with single-families and co-ops, many of which sit on tree-lined blocks.
And a smaller exclusive enclave and historic district, Sunnyside Gardens — nestled more on the northern side of the area and runs from 43rd to part of 49th Street between Skillman and 39th avenues — features small but charming one-family homes, most in the form of two-story attached brick buildings.
Need to Know
The jagged boundaries of the Sunnyside neighborhood begin around 35th Street to the west and extend east down to 49th Street. It is split down the middle by Queens Boulevard. On the south side of Queens Boulevard, the New Cavalry Cemetery serves as another marker of its eastern border. It is bounded to the north by the Long Island Rail Road tracks and the Sunnyside Rail Yard a little further north, and to the south by the Long Island Expressway. More »
The number 7 train, which runs above the main corridor of Queens Boulevard, stops at 40th/Lowery Street and 46th/Bliss Street. Buses: Q60 on Queens Boulevard; Q39 on 48th Avenue; B24 on Greenpoint Avenue. More »
Queens Library Sunnyside Branch, 43-06 Greenpoint Ave. More »
P.S. 150, 40-01 43rd Ave.; I.S. 125, 46-02 47th Ave. More »
45-15 44th St. More »
The 108th Precinct covers the Sunnyside neighborhood. It is located at 5-47 50th Ave. Though there were a rash of subway robberies last year, the precinct’s robbery numbers have seen a major decline in the past 20 years. In 1990, there were 1,372 robberies compared to 191 in 2012 — an 86.1% decrease. In light of last year’s robberies, extra cops were assigned to patrol the precinct area’s train stations during the day and at night. The murder rate in the precinct is also relatively low. In 1990, there were 16 murders; in 2012 there were four. More »
The Dog and Duck
The first gastropub in Sunnyside, this quaint spot offers dishes like wild mushroom risotto, duck confit, and their signature Dog and Duck burger. A Sunday Roast is offered every week at 3 p.m. There’s also garden seating in the back and sidewalk seating during warm months.
Salt & Fat
Priding itself on American and Asian fusion food, this relatively new restaurant has been a big hit in the neighborhood. Menu options include truffled beef salad, oxtail terrine and Korean BBQ wraps.
I Love Paraguay
This is one of the few places to try authentic Paraguayan food in New York City. I Love Paraguay, or as locals call it, I Love Py, is a small, family-run business.
Equipped with a party room, this neighborhood watering hole is a prime spot for late nights. And with flat screen TVs, it’s perfect to catch a game while getting down on the dance floor.
Claret Wine Bar
In for a down-tempo night that’s more elegant than unrefined? Claret Wine Bar should do the trick. There is live music on Saturday nights.
In an area once mainly populated by Irish immigrants, it’s no surprise that pubs both old and new carry on paying homage. Enter Molly Blooms, which serves up Irish cuisine along with various craft beers and happy hour specials. Owner Ciaran Staunton wanted a spot that would attract everyone from the community, which is exactly what it does.
In an area that newly starting out families are rapidly descending upon, it only makes sense that a children’s clothing boutique enter the retail fray. Pick up an outfit for a regular or special day, and the jewelry and accessory options make for great baby shower or birthday gifts.
Sunnyside Thrift Shop
With $1 books, $3 scarves and everything in between, from clothing to shoes to housewares, Sunnyside Thrift Shop is a welcome alternative to the regular retail outlets. The store is neatly organized and most of the items are reasonably priced.
This charming vintage store, which many in the area regard as a gem, is a go-to spot for offbeat items. Many of the products sold are the creation of local artists, including knickknacks and furniture. The store is also known for its reputable vinyl selection.
Thalia Spanish Theatre
Venture over to Thalia Spanish Theatre, which offers performances in Spanish and English. In May the comedic play, “Secret Weapons of Fat Destruction,” is set to premiere. It will run through the month of June.
Bliss on Bliss Studio
The small artist-run space showcases the work of local artists through art exhibits and events. Their 2013 Spring into Summer Invitational Series, providing a venue for traveling artists, began on April 21. The showcase includes work from Mideo M. Cruz and Racquel De Loyola.
From June to December, the Sunnyside Greenmarket, run by GrowNYC, flourishes on Skillman Avenue, offering a plethora of food choices from fresh vegetables, seasonal fruit and cheese to baked goods, freshly caught fish and wine.