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Real EstateCity LivingBrooklyn

City Living: Sunset Park has diversity, great transit, open space

Since the 1800s, when thousands of people went to work on Sunset Parks bustling waterfront, the area has been a magnet for immigrants.

First came the Finns, the Norwegians and Swedes, then the Irish, Polish and Italians, the Puerto Ricans during the 70s and most recently the Dominicans, Ecuadoreans, Mexicans and Chinese, according to local experts.

Jeremy Laufer, District Manager of Community Board 7, laughs when he says our most recent immigrants are from Manhattan.

Just dont call Sunset Park newly discovered, warns Laufer. Its been a solid neighborhood for 150 years!

Rovika Rajkishun, who moved from the Upper West Side to 31st Street in Sunset Park 11 years ago, is exactly the kind of immigrant that Laufer is talking about.

Rajkishun looked to buy in brownstone Brooklyn, but was priced out. In Sunset Park she found exactly what she wanted: a two-story brick house with a backyard and a drive-in garage. I adore this neighborhood. I never want to live anywhere else, she said.

Whats the lure? According to both newcomers and people who grew up in Sunset Park, there are many: the vibrant mix of cultures (50% of residents were born outside the U.S., according to CB7), the existing open public spaces, the soon-to-be open public spaces, the good schools, easy transportation access, the beautiful homes, the historic Green-Wood Cemetery, and the re-purposing of 100-year-old terminal buildings to accommodate artist studios and small businesses.

Part of what was once Bush Terminal, the largest multitenant property in the U.S., located along the Sunset Park waterfront, has been re-imagined by its developers as Industry City. It is now marketed as a commercial space, incubator and studio space.

In short, Sunset Park is massive. Youll need more than a day to walk it and take in all its surprising diversity by foot. We suggest two days by foot or either a bike or car. On Fourth Avenue, a heavily trafficked two-way street that is both residential and commercial (auto parts to tacos to tattoos), youll find most of the schools, senior housing, the library, the fire station and the police precinct.

New Yorkers walk along 8th Avenue.

New Yorkers walk along 8th Avenue. Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales, 2013

  • Find It

    Here’s a classic case of shifting New York boundaries. According to the website, Sunset Park stretches from 24th Street to 64th Street, Upper New York Bay to Eighth Avenue. But, longtime resident Renee Giordano says that in the ’70s “for the people who lived here it started at 16th Street. Now some people call 24th street down ‘South Slope’ but I stick to the old boundaries.” So do we, here.

  • Transportation

    One of the big attractions of Sunset Park is its access to public transportation. A subway trip from Fourth Avenue to Grand Central or Columbus Circle will take about 45 minutes, to Union Square, about 30. There are three subway lines, the N and D express and the R local, and several bus lines, the 9, 11, 35, 37, 63 and 70. Residents who have a car have easy access to the BQE, the Belt and parking.

  • Post Office

    There are two to choose from: The Bay Ridge Branch at 5501 Seventh Ave. (because that part of Sunset Park used to be Bay Ridge), and the Bush Terminal branch at 900 Third Ave.

  • Library

    The original Sunset Branch was built in 1905 but demolished in 1970. It was rebuilt at 5108 Fourth Ave. in 1972 and got a new glass-brick facade in 1998. Books in Chinese and Spanish are available at the branch.

  • Crime

    The 72nd Precinct at 830 Fourth Ave. serves Sunset Park and its neighbor Windsor Terrace. The community and precinct have a good rapport and crime stats reflect the claim by many residents that this is a safe area. Statistically speaking, murders are down 75% from 20 years ago, with two reported so far this year.

  • Local Schools

    PS 1, 309 47th St. PS 10, 511 Seventh Ave. PS 24, 427 38th St. PS 94, 5010 Sixth Ave. PS 169, 4305 Seventh Ave. PS 172, 825 Fourth Ave. PS 295, 330 18th St. PS 371, 355 37th St. JHS 88, 544 Seventh Ave. IS 136, 4004 Fourth Ave. Sunset Park Prep, 4004 Fourth Ave. Sunset Park HS, 153 35th St.