Bensonhurst is one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods, located in southwestern Brooklyn. Bensonhurst has the city’s second-highest number of foreign-born residents with over 77,000, second to Washington Heights. The neighborhood was named for Egbert Benson, a politician and prominent Brooklyn landowner.
The neighborhood began as Bensonhurst-by-the-Sea, or what is today Bath Beach, and it soon after developed into an Italian and Jewish enclave. The neighborhood has maintained much of its history and today is often referred to as Brooklyn’s largest Chinatown and Little Italy. The neighborhood has hosted some famous residents, and it also has some surprising hidden gems. Here are the top 10 secrets of Bensonhurst.
1. There is a pop culture-inspired Bensonhurst Statue House
Located halfway down 85th Street between 20th and 21st Avenues is the Bensonhurst Statue House, a surprising home with nearly 40 life-size sculptures of pop culture figures, including Superman flying out from a second-story balcony, the Statue of Liberty, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis flirting, James Dean staring at Humphrey Bogart, and Dracula peeking out from above the garage. There is an old phone booth, street signs for the Brooklyn Bridge, an archaic lamppost reading “Memory Lane,” and plenty of mid-1900s artifacts.
The statue home was created by Steve Campanella, a retired Marine who drew from his childhood and his strong Brooklyn pride. The driveway and garage were designed to mimic the approach to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, with two “lanes” for cash or EZ-Pass. Signs touch on Brooklyn’s history, including Ebbets Field, and the garage features thousands of collector items.