Sunnyside is a vibrant and verdant neighborhood in western Queens, bordered to the West by Long Island City and the Sunnyside Yard and to East by Woodside. Perhaps most recognized by its soaring Art Deco “Sunnyside” sign just south of the 46th St-Bliss St. station on the 7 train, the name Sunnyside originates from a French Huguenot family named the Bragaws, who named their estate “Sunnyside Hill.” With the construction of the Queensboro Bridge, Sunnyside transformed from a community of farms to a commuter town.
Today, Sunnyside mixes old and new, with historic Art Deco and Victorian properties alongside modern developments. The area has had quite a significant sports history, along with having some famous residents and beautiful architecture. Here are our top 10 secrets of Sunnyside, Queens.
1. Sunnyside Gardens Historic District was one of the country’s first planned communities
Many New Yorkers rave about the stunning Victorian architecture of Forest Hills Gardens, but Sunnyside Gardens has quite a similar story. Sunnyside Gardens, one of the first planned communities in the country, was in fact the first U.S. development modeled on the ideas of the “garden city” movement, which tried to capture elements of the countryside and the city through a mix of residences, agriculture, and industry. The idea was advanced by Ebenezer Howard and Raymond Unwin. Built between 1924-28, Sunnyside Gardens consists of including more than 600 buildings across 16 blocks and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Clarence Stein and Henry Wright, who pioneered the garden city movement in the U.S., were the primary architects, while the landscape architect was Marjorie Sewell Cautley. Economist Richard T. Ely and author of The City In History Lewis Mumford were major proponents of the project. The homes, as well as some apartment buildings, were mainly built from Hudson brick, with each home having a small private garden. Parallel streets are connected by small private walkways, and much of the historic architecture has been maintained. Though the stock market crashed just a year after construction was finished, and about 60 percent of residents lost their homes due to foreclosure, these enclaves still persist, bringing a bit of suburban style – front yard and driveway included – to the big city.