Sunset Park’s industrial spaces were once the victims of urban blight and a dying manufacturing sector; they served as the backdrop for the tortured souls in Hubert Selby Jr.’s 1964 novel Last Exit to Brooklyn and were defined by high crime rates and poverty.
Now, the area’s isolation and wide open interiors are making it a party mecca, attracting revelers who enjoy the solitude of such marginal locations.
The area became a red light refuge for Times Square’s displaced porn shops and strip clubs in the Giuliani days of the early 2000s. Tumble-down spaces built for mass manufacturing were repurposed, catering to visitors’ various vices.
Such authenticity is part of the area’s current voyeuristic appeal, its old terminal buildings providing both a sufficiently immense space as well as an aura of un-curated realness that appeals to New York’s pleasure-seeking elite.
Laser shows and electronic dance raves in spaces like the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal’s 39th Street Pier — where November’s underground Time Warp festival charged $360 for a two-day V.I.P. pass — provide a hip contrast between high-profile DJs and forgotten relics of working-class industry, according to the New York Times.
Taxi-replacement apps and their carpooling rates make timid partygoers less apprehensive about the trek to as-yet-ungentrified portions of Kings County.
Area strip clubs, like 47th Street’s Club Lust, cater to the hip-hop elite, providing a high-energy spot far (but not too far) from the city’s well-known, high-energy center.
“I’m a Jersey kid,” a co-owner of one such club — Lust — told the New York Times, going only by the pseudonym Star. “Before any of this, I never wanted nothing to do with Brooklyn. It’s dangerous. But we’re at a point where we made it cool to come.”
Cool to come, and not yet too overpriced and homogenized to leave, Sunset Park provides what Williamsburg and Bushwick barely still offer: the ability to enjoy a locale’s rich history and minimal noise enforcement before too many discover it and luxury towers begin to rise.
The parties aren’t the only thing attracting those who were once too scared of Brooklyn to step foot in its outer waterfront reaches.
Industry City and its collection of companies contributing in the borough’s artisanal renaissance — including artisanal eateries Blue Marble Ice Cream, Home Frite and Mofongo, as well as winter tenants Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Flea — also draw a fair share of Sunset Park’s growing inter-city tourists.
The neighborhood’s big spaces are also attracting makers, offices and retailers. In the past two years, Sunset Park became home to a number of Brooklyn’s largest commercial and retail leases, including Makerbot’s 170,000-square-foot factory, a satellite office for Time Inc, and a 100,000 square-foot Bed Bath & Beyond.
Despite Sunset Park’s emergence as an accessible getaway from the glass canyons of Manhattan and a hub for artisan maker culture, partygoers voice a faint guilt, or at least a vague awareness of the new party scene’s potential negative impact on Sunset Park.
“I think it’s OK if it’s not infiltrating a neighborhood,” one party-going Lower East Sider told the Times after an event organized by creative agency Matte Projects, as she waited for an Uber.
Industry City’s Rise, Fall and Rebirth, From Wartime Manufacturing to Artisanal Mecca
Time Inc. Shipping Techies — and Their Dogs — to Sunset Park’s Industry City
Fight Brewing Over Rezoning Industrial Waterfront Areas in Sunset Park