A Slope Toward the Sky: How Sunset Park Got Its Name

Female workers at Industry City back in the day. Photo via Industry City


Brownstoner takes on Brooklyn history in Nabe Names, a series of briefs on the origins and surprising stories of neighborhood nomenclature.

The outsourcing of American industry in the mid 20th century took a heavy toll on Sunset Park, once a highly productive manufacturing sector. The area experienced a visible deterioration of its sprawling terminal buildings and warehouses for many decades.

Sunset Park Brooklyn

Enjoying the view in Sunset Park. Photo via The People of New York

Today, the area’s long-unused industrial spaces are seeing a renaissance among local maker businesses and corporate giants alike. Amazon, Time Inc., the winter Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg, and Blue Marble are now residents at Industry City.

As well, the sprawling structures are being transformed into venues for high-energy raves and dance parties — a far cry from the tortured souls who populated the area in Hubert Selby Jr.’s 1964 novel Last Exit to Brooklyn.

Sunset Park Brooklyn

The Sunset Pool on opening day in 1936. Photo via Ephemeral New York

The neighborhood’s name reference is obvious to anyone who’s found themselves in the area in the evening: The street grid allows for one to see straight down Sunset Park’s sloped streets to the west, the water and the sunset.

The park itself — nearly 25 acres and still open to the public today — was called Sunset Park since its founding in 1890. But it wasn’t until the 1960s that the name caught on for the surrounding neighborhood — it had long been referred to only as South Brooklyn or lumped in with Bay Ridge or Gowanus.

Related Stories
The Insider: Revamping a Sunset Park Row House for a Clean, Modern Look
Sunset Park’s Surprising Rebirth as an Elite Party Scene
Industry City’s Rise, Fall and Rebirth, From Wartime Manufacturing to Artisanal Mecca

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