A neighborhood infinitely more nuanced than its namesake, Sunset Park repeatedly defies expectation. Once hailed as the “New Williamsburg,” Sunset Park residents have fought to keep industry in as a means to keep gentrification out. A widely diverse area where the term “minority” is misleading, upwards of 75% of the population is Hispanic or Chinese, with a rich history of Irish, Polish and Norwegian immigration dating back to the 1800s. This means an incredible array of (affordable) culinary treats, street fairs, music and more. It also has one of the largest walk-to-work communities in the United States. A palpable juxtaposition of industry, residential and commercial, near the waterfront old railtracks meld into cobblestone and asphalt.
Still, it is not a place without problems. It was designated a federal poverty area in the 1960s. Garment sweatshops operate in basements, apartments and concealed warehouses. The illegal commuter van industry is flourishing. The Gowanus Expressway (a portion of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway) literally dissects the neighborhood, while waterfront access is blocked by large industry. As the locus of great economic, social and political debate, Sunset Park is a place to experience before developers, government agencies and community groups battle and ultimately settle on some compromise that nonetheless destroys the fabric of one of the last “hidden” neighborhoods in New York.
How to Get There:
Subway: N/R/D/M to Prospect Avenue, 25th st., 36th st., 45th st., 53rd st., or 59th st.
D/M to 9th ave or N to 8th ave.
Take any cross street and walk from the industrial waterfront through the commercial and residential areas.