City Living: Sunnyside
Explore 20 photos of Sunnyside HERE. (Photos: Alana Abel)
By Joseph Broadus and Miranda Siegel
Special to amNewYork
Welcome to Sunnyside proclaims the brightly lit sign at the intersection of Queens Boulevard and Greenpoint Avenue, and one certainly does feel welcome spending time in this sprawling, multicultural neighborhood.
Although its traditionally been an Irish area, Sunnyside has long welcomed newcomers, with sizable Korean, Turkish, Romanian and Colombian populations now calling it home.
This area is always changing, says Juaquin Velazquez, owner of The Haab, a Mexican coffee shop. There are a lot more young people moving in from Manhattan. But its changing for the good; people here are very open.Known for being home to one of the countrys first planned garden communities, Sunnyside is defined by three commercial strips Greenpoint Avenue, Queens Boulevard and Skillman Avenue which divide the neighborhood into smaller areas with distinct personalities.
The historic district around Skillman Avenue, which is characterized by an easy pace and blocks of two-story houses with private gardens and shared interior courtyards, is the one that Manhattan resident John Davison, a designer, prefers.
Theres such charm; in the spring, its like a 1960s bohemian garden city in London, said Davison. Its the most tempted Ive ever been to move out of Manhattan.
Closer to Queens Boulevard and Greenpoint Avenue, among the standard conveniences of banks, pharmacies, salons and fast food joints, are too many Irish pubs to count, too many bakeries to resist and even a few options for the connoisseur of Romanian food and entertainment.
The more time we spend here, the more we find, says Michel LeRoy, another guest considering the area. "You won't find better food for the price than in this neighborhood."
Sunnyside is defined by Van Dam Street to the west, the Sunnyside Rail Yards to the north, New Calvary Cemetery and 51st Street to the east and the LIE to the south.
THE ONE THING YOU MUST DO
Sunnyside Gardens, an early example of a New York planned community, was designated a historic landmark just last year. Take an hour to wander the sidewalks and pathways, peek through the ivy-covered gates into the lush and nurtured gardens, fantasize about afternoon tea and forget about the city.
DID YOU KNOW?
* Sunnyside is home to Sunnyside Gardens Park, one of only two private parks in New York. (The other is Manhattans Gramercy Park)
* One of Sunnysides most recognizable landmarks, the vaguely art deco Sunnyside Arch at 46th Street and Queens Boulevard, was built in the eighties by a community group. It was renovated in 2005.
* Many famous entertainers have called Sunnyside home, including Ethel Merman, Perry Como, Bix Beiderbecke, Rudy Vallee and James Caan.
* Sunnyside hosts the only St. Patricks Day parade in New York that makes space for gay and lesbian members of the Irish community. The St. Pats for All parade also features representatives from Caribbean, Latino, Korean and American Indian communities.
* On the corner of 45th Street and Queens Boulevard, where a Wendys now stands, there was once The Sunnyside Gardens, a boxing and wrestling arena where Andre the Giant fought several matches and where John F. Kennedy held a campaign rally in 1960.
With Korean, Peruvian, Irish, Turkish, Italian and Mexican restaurants all in good supply, Stray Vintage co-owner Tara Glasser isnt exaggerating when she says, You can definitely just do an eating tour of the neighborhood.
With its brick walls, specialty coffee, crocks of steaming chili, cozy seating and patrons waving to their friends through the windows, Aubergine embodies Sunnyside: warm and easy-going, with a strong sense of community.
49-22 Skillman Ave. 718-899-1735
Los Pollos LimeÃ±os
Behind an awning covered in toque-wearing cartoon chickens is a Peruvian joint dishing up generous, inexpensive platters of plump, succulent chicken, sweet maduros and fried yucca. Expect your standards for cheap food to rise!
45-51 46th St. 718-392-8141
With its resident piano player, soft lighting and fur-clad clientele, Dazies has been pampering Sunnysides most discerning residents for nearly 30 years. Go on, guzzle that wine and scarf that platter of Pollo alla Napoli with gustothese prices wont leave holes in your wallet.
49-41 Queens Blvd. 718-786-7013
In a city of cutesy patisseries and $5 cupcakes, its refreshing to find a bakeryand a 24-hour bakery at thatthat just keeps it real. Hang out at the old-fashioned diner counter and savor the luscious creations: dense, oily and crusted with glaze.
45-16 Queens Blvd.
Love it or hate it, this might be a sign of one new nightlife trend in the area: the ultra-modern lounge. Enjoy a range of dishes, including shepherds pie and scallops cannelloni, surrounded by fancy lighting and illuminated red squares on the walls.
45-08 Queens Blvd. 718-786-3570
With the vibe of a comfort-food diner and all the friendly first-name greetings that go along with it, Rose Restaurant is the place to enjoy Irish breakfasts, fish and chips and chicken potpieand to indulge your quiet curiosity about bangers and mash.
44-07 Queens Blvd. 718-784-0745
From the slew of Irish pubs lining Queens Boulevard to live comedy, karaoke and open-mic nights, one doesnt need to go faror spend muchto be entertained in Sunnyside. Opening soon on Skillman Avenue is Claret, a wine bar that will definitely fill a need in the area.
The Diving Bell
One of many new businesses attracting local attention, this Queens Boulevard pub features live music on weekends. No reports yet of any spontaneous drunken sea shanties inspired by the nautical decor, but it wont be long.
45-15 Queens Blvd. 718-786-6005
Bliss Street Station Restaurant
A classic Irish pub, complete with brogues cursing a bad football play and trading weekend fishing stories. They food is also popular, but meal or no meal, the welcoming staff and entertaining conversation will entice you to stick around for a few drinks.
47-02 Greenpoint Ave. 718-729-2547
Theres a certain charm in watching Quantum of Solace with your feet stuck to the floor and your back pinched in a cramped seat, right? It may not pamper you, and you may feel like washing your hands (or showering) after you leave, but if youre strapped for cash the $4 Tuesdays offer a cheap escape.
42-17 Queens Blvd. 718-361-6869
In this airy coffee shopwhich also has weekly comedy and open-mic nightsyou can nurse a cappuccino and crack open a novel while hypnotic trip-hop plays in the background. Come early if youre looking to stretch out and studythat couch by the fireplace goes quickly!
39-24 Queens Blvd. 718-361-0396
The area south of Queens Boulevard, behind the Sunnyside Arch, is something of a homegrown outdoor mall lined with discount clothing stores, salons, Colombian bakeries, a Latin-American music store, and a pet store, complete with puppy in the window.
Though the Modern Lovers playing on the stereo make it seem like this vintage goods store is better suited to Greenpoint or Park Slope, it feels right at home on its quiet corner. Pop in to chat with the friendly young owners and explore the yellowing paperbacks and Patsy Cline records, and you just might leave with a 1940s radio or a vintage Super-8 projector.
48-09 Skillman Ave. 718-779-7795
At this local Turkish imports shop, you'll find all kinds of wrapped Ãlker biscuits, grape molasses, halal meats, rose and quince jams, boregi, baklava, Turkish Delights and pickled stuff.
46-31 Skillman Ave. 718-937-3456
Kumari Enterprises Inc.
This is the place to go to buy gifts for the relative who just cant get enough jade elephant figurines. The small shop is crammed with beautiful hand-knotted rugs, Tibetan and Nepali handicrafts, incense and jewelry; you could even leave bundled up in an authentic Tibetan herdsman hat!
45-43 47th St. 347-242-3604
Breeze past the $150 gift baskets and marvel at the walls of products imported from Ireland and Great Britain. There are daily lunch and dinner specials, but you could also just load up on beetroot salad, McVittiess digestive biscuits or even a Mint Aero bar for the road.
43-46 41st St. 718-784-1078
Though Sunnyside is best known for its dining options and old-world charm, there are still plenty of other fun things to do in the area besides eat and wander around. Its easy to get to know your neighbors, and with the recent establishment of the Sunnyside Shorts Film Festival and a new CSA (Community Supported Agriculture organization), it looks like the options are only expanding.
Juan Arache's cake design studio not only sells Dora the Explorer cake molds and instructional DVDs, it also offers cakemaking courses! That's right, you can learn how to make gum paste gardenias, roll out slabs of fondant cream and squeeze royal icing out of a pastry bag in their workshop next door.
Visit sugarroom.com for class schedules and rates.
43-46 40th St. 718-707-2900
Thalia Spanish Theatre
Behind the modest faÃ§ade of Queenss first and only bilingual Hispanic theatre, youll find colorful tango and flamenco dances and groundbreaking, first-rate performances of Spanish, Latin American and Hispanic plays. In addition, regular workshops offer lessons in acting, puppetry and dance to children.
47-17 Greenpoint Ave. 718-729-3880
Films at All Saints Church
No gross bathrooms, no $5 popcorn, just informative and worldly films. On the second Friday of each month, toss a small donation into the basket and enjoy a night of thought-provoking movie-viewing and discussions with neighbors. This months feature focuses on Brazilian urban planning.
43-12 46th St. 718-784-8031
Saturday Farmers Market
The market in front of Lou Lodati playground recently added a fish stand and organic beef vendor to the standard assortment of fruit, produce, and baked goods. Pick up one of the buttery soft, molasses-rich gingerbread cookies to nibble as you stroll among the tents.
Skillman Ave. at 43rd St.
Ask any local whats up in Sunnyside and youll hear the same story over and over: Younger people from Manhattan are flocking to the area to escape the high rents while taking advantage of the easy access to midtown.
Are the locals bothered by this influx of newcomers?
Catherine Murphy, the owner of Aubergine CafÃ©, doesnt seem to mind. People are very welcoming here; the new families are really investing in the neighborhood, she said. Theyre not just coming here to sleep; theyre putting down roots.
Q&A WITH JESSE MCTIERNAN
Jesse McTiernan, 30, works as a restaurant host in Manhattan. He moved from Woodside to Sunnyside a year and a half ago.
Whats your favorite place to hang out in Sunnyside?
There are really a lot of good places. I think Sidetracks stands out as a really pretty place. It has a nice crowd, a good bar scene, a lot of 20-30 year olds. I think it is part of a new kind of Sunnyside.
Whats great about the area?
Definitely the proximity to midtown Manhattan. Its so close to everything, but you get so much more space for such a bargain. It literally has everything you want. Also, from certain blocks you can get a great view of the fireworks on the Fourth of July.
Whats not so great?
Oh, the movie theater! You have to wear galoshes if you go in that place.
Why did you move to Sunnyside?
There were a lot of reasons: the amount of space you get for your money; its easy to get to Manhattan and Long Island City, which has a lot of fun bars; and its easy to get out to the Mets games in the summer.
What type of person would like to live there?
I think if youre into Ireland, youd definitely like it. Also, though, just families and young professionals who want to have the space to live like adults.
How has the neighborhood changed?
I think the neighborhoods looking younger; the crowd on the trains looking younger. More people like me are moving in from Manhattan. Its nice; there are more dating options now.
Any big changes on the horizon?
Well, the secret is out, so the prices are going up and the area is expanding further out from Queens Boulevard.
Whats something about the area that nobody knows?
The park in the summer is a great place to play basketball, and it definitely stands up to the [West] Fourth Street Courts [in Manhattan]in terms of the quality of the players.
Aside from the very attractive Sunnyside Gardensone of the countrys first planned garden communitiesSunnyside is largely made up three-to-six story prewar apartment buildings and co-ops.
In recent years, young professionals have discovered Sunnysides lovely housing options, and more are settling in.
People moving to Sunnyside from Manhattan find the 20 minute commute on the 7 train is outweighed by the larger apartments they are able to rent, says Bonnie Milcarek, Licensed Real Estate Agent at Pari Passu Realty Corp. and a Sunnyside resident.
Its better than living in a closet in Manhattan.
$183,000 for a 500-square-footprewar studio co-op (43-33 48th St.)
$280,000 for a two-bedroom prewar co-op (45th St.)
$335,000 for a two-bedroom apartment on the first floor of a garden-style co-op building (48-35 43rd St.)
$357,000 for a renovated 1000-square-foot split two-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op
$402,560 for a 629-square-foot one-bedroom condo (43-33 48th St.)
$800 for an L-shaped studio with separate kitchen (41st St. at 50th Ave.)
$1,400 for a renovated one-bedroom apartment (44th St. at 47th Ave.)
$1,550 for a renovated three-bedroom apartment (Skillman Ave.)
$1,800 for a three-bedroom apartment (near the Bliss St. Station)
$1,900 for a two-bedroom apartment in a historic Sunnyside Gardens two-family home (Skillman Ave. at 44th St.)
$2,500 for a two-bedroom apartment on a tree-lined residential block*
*Call Bonnie Milcarek, Licensed Real Estate Agent at Pari Passu Realty Corp. 917-679-9195.
THE FACT SHEET
Queens Community Board 2
Queens Public Library Sunnyside
43-06 Greenpoint Ave. 718-784-3033
Queens Public Library Woodside
54-22 Skillman Ave. 718-429-4700
Subway: 7 to 33rd-Rawson St.; 40th-Lowery St.; 46th-Bliss St.
Bus: Q32, 39, 60, 104; B24.
5-47 50th Ave. 718-784-5411
Engine 325, Hook & Ladder 163 (Woodside)
41-24/2 51st St.
Capital One Bank
40-20 Queens Blvd. 718-392-9470
44-07 Greenpoint Ave. 718-361-5638
46-10 Queens Blvd. 718-706-6563
The 108th Precinct, which include Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City, reported three murders, eight rapes, 183 robberies and 262 burglaries so far this year. For the same period last year, there was one murder, 12 rapes, 187 robberies and 193 burglaries.
PS 199, 39-20 48th Ave.; PS 150, 40-01 43rd Ave.; PS 11, 54-25 Skillman Ave.; IS 125, 46-02 47th Ave.