You don’t just stumble upon Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood by casually walking around New York City. It takes effort. And you’re also not going to find any world famous buildings or iconic parks while you’re there – those are elsewhere. But for all the things Sunset Park lacks (like tourists), it still manages to have plenty to offer. This little neighborhood-that-could has been surprising visitors and residents alike with its outstanding city views, rich immigrant communities and unique architecture.
Sunset Park was first founded as a shipping port, set conveniently along New York Harbor in the far Southwestern edge of Brooklyn. By World War II, the area was shipping out more than 80% of all American supplies and equipment destined for the fronts overseas. It was also a neighborhood of surprising diversity, housing one of New York’s largest communities of Scandinavian immigrants. As the shipping industry began to decline after the War, the area began to house a new wave of residents, today composed of a rich swath of Latino communities and one of New York’s three different Chinatowns.
The effects of Sunset Park’s distinct geography, history and immigration have combined to give the area a unique mixture of off-the-beaten path attractions. Want to have some of New York’s most authentic tacos and Chinese food on the same day? What about a visit to a park that might have one of the city’s best views? And why in the world did Elvis make this tiny neighborhood his only visit to New York City? Get ready to step off the beaten path as Undiscovered New York investigates Brooklyn’s Sunset Park. Click below for more.
New York’s best view?
In addition to its location along the Brooklyn waterfront, Sunset Park is blessed with some pleasant green space at the neighborhood’s namesake park. As luck would have it, Sunset Park is also among the highest points in all of Brooklyn – meaning on most days you can see the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, the Empire State Building, Staten Island and New Jersey. They don’t call it “Sunset” Park for nothing – make sure to stop by one evening at dusk for a truly outstanding view. Aside from the heart-stopping vistas, Sunset Park also boasts a swimming pool, volleyball court and plenty of walking paths.
Melting pot of authentic food
Manhattan’s Chinatown might have the best soup dumplings. And Roosevelt Avenue in Queens might have some of the best Latin American food. But Sunset Park has them both beat. It is, after all, hard to compete with a ‘hood where within a few blocks you can eat so well, for so cheap from such diverse immigrant cuisines. Start your trip with one of Sunset Park’s many taco trucks along Fourth and Fifth Avenues. Not full yet? Head a few blocks over to Eighth Avenue, where you’ll find one of New York’s three Chinatown districts. Take a walk past buckets of still squirming fish at the seafood market, have some freshly made noodles, or bite down on a fresh Banh Mi sandwich.
As we mentioned earlier, Sunset Park played a pivotal role as a key shipping port during World War II, providing thousands of jobs for the area’s residents. Though not much remains of Sunset Park’s illustrious maritime history, there is one hugely obvious reminder at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. This massive 95 acre complex, located between 53rd and 66th Streets, once served as a staging center for goods and men on their way to battlegrounds in Europe. It is also, through a strange twist of fate, the only place legendary rocker Elvis ever set foot in New York. The King swaggered through Brooklyn Army Terminal in 1958 on his way to his military service in Germany.