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Bensonhurst

 

Bensonhurst

Bensonhurst is a large, amorphous area consisting of several neighborhoods, in the southwestern part of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, in the United States. It is surrounded by Dyker Heights, Borough Park, Flatbush, Midwood, and Gravesend. It is the most famous of the many Little Italys, or Italian-American neighborhoods, in Brooklyn.

Geography

Sometimes erroneously thought[by whom?] to include all or parts of such neighborhoods as Bath Beach, Mapleton, Dyker Heights, Gravesend, and Borough Park, or to be defined by the streets where the concentration of Italian and Chinese residents is most dense, Bensonhurst has a variety of possible boundaries. Neighboring areas that border it are Gravesend to the southeast, Midwood to the east, Borough Park to the north, Dyker Heights to the west, and Bath Beach to the southwest. A possible clearly defined boundary is as follows: Starting at the neighborhood's southern tip at the corner of Stillwell Avenue and 86th Street, the border runs north along Stillwell Avenue to Avenue P, east to McDonald Avenue, north to 60th Street, northwest to Fort Hamilton Parkway, southwest to Bay Ridge Avenue (69th Street), southeast to 14th Avenue, south to 86th Street, and southeast back to Stillwell Avenue.

Bensonhurst is served by two branches of the New York City Subway system: the elevated BMT West End Line, carrying the D service, at 62nd Street, 71st Street, 79th Street, 18th Avenue, 20th Avenue, Bay Parkway, and 25th Avenue stations; and the open-cut BMT Sea Beach Line, carrying the N service, at New Utrecht Avenue, 18th Avenue, 20th Avenue, and Bay Parkway stations. The two lines have a free transfer in the neighborhood at the 62nd Street D Station and the New Utrecht Avenue N Station.

Bensonhurst is patrolled by the NYPD's 62nd Precinct.[1] McDonald Avenue from Avenue I to Kings Highway is sometimes considered the eastern boundary.

History

Bensonhurst derives its name from Arthur W. Benson, the former president of Brooklyn Gas, who in 1835 began buying farmland that formerly belonged to the Polhemus family. Between 1835 and 1850 Benson divided the farmland into generous lots that were sold in the following decades as part of the newly created suburb of Bensonhurst by the Sea (current day Bath Beach section),[2] which was annexed into the 30th Ward of Brooklyn in the 1890s.

The U.S. Post Office-Parkville Station located at 6618 20th Ave., was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.[3]

Demographics

Bensonhurst has a population of over 151,000 inhabitants.[4] In the early 20th century, many Italians and Jews moved into the neighborhood, and prior to World War II the neighborhood was about equally Jewish and Italian. In the 1950s, under pressure of an influx of immigrants from southern Italy and with new housing being built in the suburbs, the Jewish population began to decline and eventually, after several decades, most of the Jewish population left the neighborhood, leaving the area predominantly Italian.

With a large Italian-American population, Bensonhurst is usually considered the main "Little Italy" of Brooklyn. The Italian-speaking community remains over 20,000 strong, according to the census of 2000. But, the Italian-speaking community is becoming "increasingly elderly and isolated, with the small, tight-knit enclave in the city slowly disappearing as they give way to demographic changes." [5] Its main thoroughfare, 18th Avenue (also known as Cristoforo Colombo Boulevard) between roughly 60th Street and Shore Parkway, is lined with predominantly small, Italian family-owned businesses—many of which have remained in the same family for several generations. 86th Street is another popular local thoroughfare, lined by the arches of the elevated BMT West End Subway Line. The 79th Street Station was popularized in opening credits of Welcome Back, Kotter.

Around 1989, an influx of immigrants from China and the former USSR began to arrive. Other groups of people in the neighborhood include ethnic Albanian, Arab, Mexican, and Puerto Rican Americans.

Brooklyn's "Little Italy"

Bensonhurst was formerly stereotyped as a haven for Mafia members. However, currently the neighborhood is undergoing a transformation; many of the original houses dating back over 90 years ago are being torn down and replaced by three-story brick apartment buildings and multi-family condominiums, sometimes referred to as "Fedders Houses" for their distinctive air conditioner sleeves.

Visitors from throughout the New York City metropolitan area flock to the neighborhood each year in late August or early September to take part in the colorful Festa di Santa Rosalia (commonly known as "the Feast" to locals), held on 18th Avenue from Bay Ridge Parkway (75th Street) to 66th Street. "The Feast" is presented by Bensonhurst resident and skilled marketer Franco Corrado, as well as by the Santa Rosalia Society, on 18th Avenue. Born in Rome in 1955, Corrado has been an active social member of the Italian-American community for the past 20 years. St. Rosalia is the patron saint of the city of Palermo and is sometimes venerated as the patron for the entire island of Sicily. The annual end-of-summer celebration attracts thousands. Bensonhurt also hosts a Columbus Day parade.

Demonstrating the identical trend as adjacent Lower Manhattan in New York City, Bensonhurst's Little Italy is declining concomitantly with its Italian American population, being uprooted by the rapidly expanding Bensonhurst Chinatown and its attendant Chinese population.

Chinatown Emerging (唐人街, 本森社区)

Below the D-line elevated subway along on 86th Street between 18th Avenue and Stillwell Avenue, has now emerged a third Brooklyn Chinatown (布鲁克林華埠).[6] Within recent years, most new businesses opening within this portion of Bensonhurst's 86th Street, especially between 20th Avenue and 25th Avenue, have been Chinese. The D train is directly connected from the Grand Street station in Manhattan's Chinatown (紐約華埠) to this rapidly growing Chinese enclave between 18th Avenue and 25th Avenue, and it is becoming a third extension of Manhattan's Chinatown. It is also in some way becoming a second extension of Brooklyn's 8th Avenue Chinatown since the D trains are transferable to the N trains to travel to Brooklyn's 8th Avenue Chinatown.[7][8] On 86th Street, it is home to growing Chinese restaurants including the 86 Wong Chinese Restaurant, which is one of the earliest Chinese restaurants and businesses to be established on this street.[9] Chinese grocery stores, salons, bakeries, and other types of Chinese businesses are also expanding swiftly on this street. There is still currently a mixture of different ethnic businesses and people, especially with many Italians and Russians still in the Bensonhurst neighborhood. However, with the highly rapid rate of growth of Chinese businesses and people on this street, the proportion of the Chinese population is increasing; and this Chinatown may rival or surpass the size of the Avenue U Chinatown (唐人街, U大道), also located in southern Brooklyn. With the migration of the Cantonese as well as Fuzhou people in Brooklyn now to Bensonhurst, and along with new Chinese immigration, other small clusters of Chinese people and businesses have grown in other parts of Bensonhurst like 18th Avenue and Bay Parkway as well integrating with other ethnic groups and businesses.[10][11][12][13][14] It is possible that several small Chinatowns might form as the Chinese population and number of Chinese businesses continue to grow in various sections of Bensonhurst, as it can be witnessed.[15]

According to the Daily News, Brooklyn's Asian population, mainly Chinese, has grown tremendously not only in the Sunset Park area, but also in Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, and Borough Park. In Bensonhurst alone, from 2000 to 2010, the Asian population increased by 57%. The study also shows that Asians very often live in houses that are divided into studio apartments, which means there is a possibility that the increased Asian population could be more than what the census represents and causing stressors on the growing Asian population in Brooklyn.[16]

Chinese translation terms Bensonhurst as 本森社区, 86th Street as 八十六街, and 18th Avenue as 第十八大道.

Milestone Park

Milestone Park is a significant park in the Bensonhurst area. It contains a replica of the oldest sandstone mile marker in New York City (the original is housed at the Brooklyn Historical Society).[17]

Homecrest Community Services

In 2004, Homecrest Community Services opened a satellite Senior Citizens facility in Bensonhurst to serve the growing Chinese population; it was the first Asian-operated senior service facility to open in the neighborhood.[18][19] The headquarters of Homecrest Community Services, which opened in 1997, is located in Avenue T in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn near the Avenue U Chinatown.[20] They are a non-profit IRS 501C(3) corporation, and funded by the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development, NYC Department For the Aging, State of New York, New York City Council, legislators, and the Brooklyn Borough President. Other corporations, foundations, and individuals also help fund the program.[21] They are members of the Asian American Federation, the Federation of Protesta Welfare Agencies. Inc., Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City, Inc., and the Greater Southern Brooklyn Health Coalition. They also have connections with diverse variety of community-based organizations, health care providers and government agencies serving southern Brooklyn.[18]

Public Transportation

The D train, which runs on the BMT West End Line above 86th Street, provides a direct connection to Grand Street in Manhattan[7] while the N train, which runs on the BMT Sea Beach Line near 63rd Street, provides a direct connection to Canal Street. This provides convenient commutes into Manhattan's Chinatown for the growing Bensonhurst Chinese population.[8] The Sea Beach Line has a station at Eighth Avenue in Brooklyn's Sunset Park Chinatown and a transfer to the West End Line is available at New Utrecht Avenue / 62nd Street.

The B1, B3, B4, B6, B8, B9, B64 and B82 bus lines operate through Bensonhurst.

Education

The New York City Department of Education serves Bensonhurst.[22]

Zoned schools include:

  • P.S. 48 The Mapleton School
  • P.S. 186 Dr. Irving A Gladstone School
  • P.S. 101 The Verrazano School
  • P.S. 205 The Clarion School
  • P.S. 128 Bensonhurst School
  • P.S. 247 The College Partnership Elementary School
  • I.S. 96 Seth Low
  • I.S. 281 Joseph B. Cavallaro
  • I.S. 227 Edward B. Shallow

High schools include:

Colleges and Universities

  • Bramson ORT College

In popular culture

Bensonhurst has long been portrayed in film, art and literature; Kelly Ripa, featured a spelling-bee parody, making fun of stereotypical Italians. JoAnn from Bensonhurst, premiering in 2011, was based on her larger-than-life personality.

  • Mirabelli's Famous Cream Soda and the Sbarro pizza chain restaurants have their roots in the neighborhood.
  • The Honeymooners is set in Bensonhurst.
  • 1972 song Bensonhurst Blues, made famous after Oscar Benton released his version of the song.
  • In a 1992 episode of Saturday Night Live, Joe Pesci, Julia Sweeney, Adam Sandler, Dana Carvey, and Chris Rock appeared in a sketch called "Bensonhurst Dating Game," which depicted Italian-American men eager to commit racial violence based on their views of interracial romance.
  • Batman villain Harley Quinn has been established as being from Bensonhurst, going home to visit her family for Christmas in Gotham City Sirens #7.
  • In the Ang Lee film Taking Woodstock, Eli Teischberg and his family knew Michael Lang, the organizer of the Woodstock music and art festival, from their childhood in Bensonhurst.
  • Bensonhurst is mentioned in the 2002 Spike Lee film 25th Hour, during Edward Norton's monologue in which he criticizes contemporary New York City.
  • Several characters from the soap opera General Hospital, most notably Sonny Corinthos, grew up in Bensonhurst.
  • Bensonhurst is mentioned in the 2010 film White Irish Drinkers, when two Italians come into an Irish bar. They are told the bar doesn't serve "their kind" and they should go back to Bensonhurst.
  • Film The French Connection, famous for its car and subway chase scene featuring Gene Hackman, took place along 86th Street.
  • Brooklyn 11223, an American reality-TV series about a divided group of friends, has also been filmed in parts of Bensonhurst.
  • Mob Wives (of New York) has filmed in Bensonhurst at the local boxing joint, Evolution Boxing, where Drita D'Avano is trained by Anthony Pezzolanti.
  • No Love In The City (2008), directed by Marius Balchunas of The Elder Son, had a critical scene filmed in Bensonhurst on 86th Street.
  • Spike of Bensonhurst by director Paul Morrissey, was filmed around Bensonhurst and won a Spirit Award.
  • I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry was filmed externally; both Chuck and Larry worked at the Bensonhurst Fire House.
  • (2008) was filmed in and around Bensonhurst.
  • Spike of Bensonhurst, starring Sasha Mitchell was set in the neighborhood.
  • "The Bensonhurst Dating Game" on Saturday Night Live aired on February 29, 2000.
  • Joann from Bensonhurst[23] is a reality-show type of webisode about a Bensonhurst housewife known as "Brooklyn's Real Housewife."

Notable people

Notable current and former residents of Bensonhurst include:

Organized crime

A number of high-profile organized crime figures hail from Bensonhurst including Anthony Casso, Paul Castellano, Mikey DiLeonardo, Anthony Gaggi, Carlo Gambino, John Gambino, Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, Gregory Scarpa and Carmine Sessa. Johnny Romano Gambino of the "Cherry Hill Gambinos" had a grocery store on 18th Avenue in the first half of 1974.

Notable landmarks

  • Magen David Synagogue
  • The Historical New Utrecht Church The Historical New Utrecht Church (serving the community since 1677) It is the fourth oldest Reformed Church in America.
  • Lenny's Pizza (Made famous by John Travolta in the opening sequence) is still standing tall.

See also

References

External links

  • A History of Bensonhurst – A History of the Neighborhood
  • New York Hoods: Photo Gallery of Bensonhurst

Coordinates: 40°36′12″N 74°0′7″W / 40.60333°N 74.00194°W / 40.60333; -74.00194

Template:Ethnicity in New York City

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