When preservationist Joe Svehlak was growing up on 57th Street in the 1940s and ’50s, that neck of the woods was still called Bay Ridge. Much has changed since then, but his former block is still “a study in working class housing built over a century ago.”
Those homes include single-family frame houses, two-family brick houses with porches and garages, and small apartment buildings. On Sunday he’ll discuss his old block and more on a Municipal Art Society walking tour titled “I Remember New York: Sunset Park, Brooklyn, The Early Years.”
In addition to talking architecture and housing stock, Svehlak, a local preservationist and historian, will offer tales of growing up in the area. Hear about life on his old block, and the street games he and his buddies played back in the days when cars were few.
The tour will visit the landmark Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, where Svehlak and his family were parishioners, and wind up on 5th Avenue. (A typical row on 59th Street is pictured above.)
On August 1, Svehlak will lead a second Sunset Park tour, focused on the area’s history of community activism. Hear how he and other committed residents helped improve a neighborhood that back in the 1970s had become marred by crime and neglect. Visit local churches and civic buildings and wind up in the neighborhood’s namesake hilltop park — once blighted, now beautifully renovated.
Photo via Preserve Sunset Park