15 August 2013

Sunset In The Afternoon

Yesterday I rode to Sunset Park, in part to take in some of my favorite views in this city.

I half-jokingly refer to the eponymous neighborhood around the Park as "Brooklyn's San Francisco."  Just a block away from the park, 45th Street begins a dramatic descent to New York Bay.

Most people think of the waterfront area as part of Sunset Park.  I guess it is, technically, but I think of it as Bush Terminal, after the complex of factories and warehouses that line Second and Third Avenues.

A few businesses have left the area, but the area looks much as it did during my childhood, when two of my uncles worked on the piers.  

They were "longshormen", a job that has all but disappeared.  But with its factories and warehouses, Bush Terminal is one of the last blue-collar waterfront areas of New York.  It's something like the Williamsburg and Long Island City waterfronts about twenty years ago, when the last factories (including the Domino Sugar plant that had been operating since the 1850's) were winding down.

As you can see, the old industrial buildings, in various states of disrepair (and none of which stand taller than five stories) provide a vista of open sky and water that can be found only at the beaches.  But, I think that an urban photographer or other artist will find the light--an almost surreal combination of metallic reflections and diffuse mist--a most accomodating canvas.

I wonder how much longer those factories and warehouses will operate.  When they close--which, eventually, they will, given how a developer would salivate at the sight of such real estate--I hope those weathered brick facades--as worn and useful as a coat that has survived yet another season--won't be torn down to construct condo buildings, faceless in spite of all of the glass that lines their exteriors, that now line much of the Williamsburg shoreline.




  1. I noticed Saint Michael's steeple in the second picture, my daughter lives a block from that church. If you ever see an '82 black Fuji Del-Rey with cream tires, that's her. It's sad to see the decline of the large industrial areas in our US cities, so many well paying jobs that have almost disappeared.

  2. Being from and in Kansas I always find these waterfront photos very interesting. Especially in an industrial area like that. Thanks for sharing,

  3. Hi Randy-- Thank you. I've never been to Kansas. Colorado is as close as I've come. I have a hard time imagining what it's like to live without waterfront areas. But I'm sure I'd find beautiful and interesting things--and people--in Kansas.

  4. Randy--Wow! Your daughter's only a block from St. Michael's. That steeple is one of my favorite structures in New York.

    I agree with what you say about industrial jobs, even though I never had any desire to work one. Some people are not meant--or can't afford-- to spend lots of time in school and would prefer to work with their hands and bodies. So many opportunities for such people have disappeared.

    I'll watch for that black Fuji!