Sunday, December 30, 2007
On waking up this morning and reading the papers I had a sick feeling more than I normally would. I suppose it was the fact that I had actually seen it. The stories are covered in the various New York papers and outlets. In the Daily News, Newsday and 7 Online. It is really a sad way to end the year.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
While it makes passing note of the Gentrification that is encroaching the neighborhood from both sides, North and South it paints a rather flowery picture that I think at this point in time is too optimistic. While no doubt there are investment opportunities to be had. The adds it links to on the bottom show a number of properties that by any standard are clearly over priced.The first offering is the 3 family brownstone on the right at 56th street. 2700 square feet on a 2000 square foot lot. It gives scant information or other details. The asking price? $990,000 . Now you might have gotten away with that a year ago. In today's market I don't think so. I suspect that house will be on the market for a long time until and if the owner takes a more realistic stock and lowers the price by about 200k.
Another offering by the same real estate agent is the modest townhouse below a wood frame house on 49th street for which they are asking $715,000. I think the people selling these properties are overly optimistic. While I agree that Sunset Park is improving I do not see it as being immune to the economic downturn in the real estate industry and until that is resolved at these prices investment opportunities they are not.
Why buy something at a high price when you know that prices are falling? Most homes are not investment opportunities. Usually the home you live in is a non-performing asset. Especially one family homes. When you take into account inflation and amortization costs most people just about break even.
So, do you think the city will lower our real estate taxes when it does the next round of appraisals? No, I don't think so.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Steve Bruner shows off the iCommunicator; Daniel Feldman (below) displays footcare products made by a sister company.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Out in the center of this shot is an obelisk gravestone with a Christmas wreath on it.
The Hillside Mausoleum. Some people call them condos for the deceased. However on bad weather days it makes paying respects to the departed bearable.
An oasis of green shrubbery amongst the barren tress of winter.
After the cemetery I took in Christmas mid day mass at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. Located a mere four blocks from the cemetery on East 2nd street and Fort Hamilton Parkway. It is the first church I attended on arriving to The United States in 1962.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Let us go back in time to circa 1960. Those were different times then. You could buy a decent one family for 20k in Bay Ridge and around 15k in what is now Sunset Park. Of course in those days, money was real money. Robert F. Wagner, Jr. was the mayor of New York. The are we now know as Sunset Park was by that time becoming heavily Hispanic from the area South of the Prospect Expressway to around 65th street. In those days it was mostly Puerto Ricans and Dominicans moving into the nabe. It became so saturated that by that time around 70% of the hood was Hispanic. Well, this did not sit well with the folks in the rest of Bay Ridge and Park Slope. Bay Ridge at that time ran North to approximately 45th street and Park Slope ran South to approximately 25th street. The area in between was generally know as South Brooklyn. Sunset Park? Well, it was just a park then. It was also a time were people were pushing for a charter revision to reapportion powers in the city and redraw the borders of neighborhoods. The people in Bay Ridge at that time south of 65th street, mostly white, Scandinavian, Italian, Irish etc. did not want to be associated with "those People" north of 65th street. Part of the reason was bigotry, mixed in with the fact that crime was going up north of 65th street and it was also reflecting on real estate values south of 65th street. After all people in other areas did not distinguish North Ridge from South. The same was true in Park Slope were people wanted a divorce south of 9th street. In any case, the powers that be, mostly local politicians who had pull redrew the borders and created Sunset Park as part of the charter revision of 1964. The new nabe was to be called Sunset Park after the park and would comprise the area south of Prospect Expressway till 65th street and east to 9th avenue south of the cemetery and east to 7th avenue in the north. This pissed off a lot of non Hispanics in the new nabe as they felt betrayed and some never got over it. Things deteriorated after that with many old residents beginning to move out of the nabe in droves. This also created opportunities as housing got ever so cheaper in the nabe. Things were not doing well until about the early 1980's. Sunset Park had a severe crime problem, gangs were everywhere. The DEA was always on 4th avenue making arrests and raiding places. And people south of the Expressway knew they were in Sunset Park.
The first Chinese families started to move into the neighborhood in around 1980. Nobody really took notice then. Hong Kong was soon to be turned over to back to Mainland China and our relations with the People's Republic were increasingly getting better. Although emmigration was just a trickle by the mid 90's it became a flood. The demographics were also changing. Second generation Puerto Ricans were moving out of the hood. Replaced by Mexicans, Dominicans and Salvadorians and others. A different type of Hispanic with an entrepreneurial spirit and outlook. Crime began to plummet as policing in the nabe got serious in the 68th, 66th and 72 precincts beginning with the Giulianni years in office.
One could write a dissertation on this subject. But fast forward to the present and the change is startling. To this day some of the negative history and reputation of Sunset Park still lingers on in the subconscious of many. To many newcomers who moved into the neighborhood from either Manhattan or the Midwest the horrid stories they had heard embellished by shady real estate agents looking to make a buck led to an old marketing technique. They began renaming areas on the fringe something else so they could spike up prices.
Having been here for almost 40 years I have seen things come and go and was around to hear people's stories of what the nabe was before I got here. I kind of resent the snobbishness and in some cases the outright bigotry expressed by some people who refer to others as "those people" whether they be Hispanics or Chinese and somehow don't want to be associated with the nabe. I have a solution for those folks. You van always move out, don't rename the nabe and pretend it's somewhere else. Wishing it were so, does not make it so. And for those apprehensive about the future, I can tell you that having neighbors who are Hispanic, Chinese, Italian and Scandinavian will teach you that people come in all varieties. You will find nice people in all shades as well as pricks. So I think it's time to get over yourselves if you want to live in Beverly Hills. Otherwise, pull up a chair and enjoy the show. Sunset Park at this point has nowhere else to go but up and it will be interesting to watch.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
In any case, borders are what borders are. At the moment, they are what they are and there is little we can do about it until another city charter revision comes along. But as things evolve, I suspect more and more people will want to be identified with Sunset Park even if they live in the nabe. When I moved here in 1970 Sunset Park was almost a drug infested ghetto and Sunset Park (the park itself) had already earned it's reputation and name as "needle Park". No decent person wanted to be associated with the nabe. What a difference 37 years make. We have one of the highest employment rates in the city, property values are among the highest, we're getting a new high school and so much more. Yep, I think we finally have things to brag about in the nabe.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
As a Sunset Park resident, I’m fascinated by the combination of Latino and Asian communities in the neighborhood. Are there other NYC neighborhoods with the same juxtaposition of cultures?
Even in Sunset Park, there are discrete pockets, with the Eighth Avenue side more Chinese and the Fifth Avenue side more Latino. A report by the city’s Department of Planning, ‘’The Newest New Yorkers 2000,'’ said that Sunset Park along Brooklyn’s western waterfront was among the city’s most polyglot, with 49.2 percent, or 59,209, of its 120,464 residents born abroad. Of those, 19,451 were born in China, 8,408 in Mexico, 7,512 in the Dominican Republic, 3,261 in Ecuador and 1,545 in Poland.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Roving culinary explorer of the Village Voice, Robert Sietsema has Ranked our very own Pacificana Restaurant to be an unparalleled dinner destination. Heck we could have told him that. His review is apparently the result of having crashed a Cantonese wedding. If only to prove that Pacificana serves a lot more than just Dim Sum.
Having lived in this neighborhood since 1970 I remember when the food fare here was rather limited to a few Spanish restaurants along 5th and a a few diners. The explosion of culinary diversity in Sunset Park in the last 15 years is something to behold. The diversity of cuisine is not limited to just Chinese. Back in the 70's most of Brooklyn was devoid of good restaurants with the exception of a few established old houses. If you wanted something good to eat, you would trek over to Bay Ridge or take the train to Manhattan. If anything, the explosion of restaurants in Sunset Park and their variety is a sign, at least to me, that Sunset Park has finally arrived.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
NEW YORK (AP) — Chinese citizens flush with cash from their booming economy will find it easier to vacation in the U.S. following a long-awaited agreement that the American travel industry hopes will bring in billions of dollars.
The deal, signed Tuesday by U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez in Beijing, will allow Chinese travel agencies to market packaged leisure tours to American destinations, and it will permit U.S. destinations to advertise directly to the Chinese public.
I would suppose that with the coming of so many Hotels into the Sunset Park area we can expect some of that tourism dollar to be dropping into the nabe. Do we need all this attention? What will it do to the neighborhood. And, while other areas are experiencing a building slump it appears our neighborhood does not appear to be a victim of it. At least not yet. Part of the explanation is that the areas where building is continuing is being driven by either Chinese or perhaps Arab money. Both groups that are culturally loath to borrow money and prefer paying cash so they are not influenced by the mortgage crunch.
It should be interesting to see, all these tourists in shorts with Hawaiian shirts snapping pics of the locals. Will the Chinese tourists be just the first wave? With the cheap dollar and the Euro priced so high maybe the Europeans may follow suit. OK so it's all a fantasy, or is it?
Saturday, December 8, 2007
While walking on 8th Avenue by 44th street. I stumbled on a group of French Film students shooting a scene for a short film entitled "Playground". When it will be out, I have no clue. One of the starring actors in it is a guy named William Otterson. They are in fine company. Sunset Park has been the scene of many a film shoot. Off the top of my head I can think of many episodes of "Hill Street Blues" that were shot here as well as most recently, "The Honeymooners", "Crocodile Dundee", "Sunset Park" that I can remember off the top of my head. I am sure some out there can come up with more films that have been shot in the nabe.
While visiting John Paul Jones Park in Bay Ridge I stumbled on this scene that begged "shoot me, shoot me!" So I did. It was a typical winter contrast of the bridge, the post fall leaves on the ground and an overcast day. The Verrazano is still an awesome sight to behold. Ok so it's not in Sunset Park, sue me. We gotta give the neighbors to our south a break every now and then. Another good reason to always carry a small pocket camera.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Rumor has it among the people living nearby that this building under construction is possibly a new hotel on 39th street. If so it would be the third such hotel in the hood that is being planned. Located between 9th and 8th avenues it is ideally situated since you can take the D train at the 9th avenue station and be in midtown Manhattan in under 40 minutes.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
We are beginning this blog as an extension to our website to post about goings on in the neighborhood I have called home since 1970. The purpose is to have people from the area who are both new and old get to know the neighborhood and it's surroundings a bit better. Walking the length and breath of the neighborhood and it's periphery has allowed me to make some observations about the hood which I will post here.