Bay Parkway in Bensonhurst
|Etymology: Egbert Benson|
Location in New York City
|City||New York City|
|Community District||Brooklyn 11|
|• Total||7.6 km2 (2.95 sq mi)|
|• Density||20,000/km2 (51,000/sq mi)|
|Area code(s)||718, 347, 929, and 917|
Bensonhurst is a large, multiethnic neighborhood in the southwestern part of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, in the United States. As defined by the New York City Planning Commission, the neighborhood's borders are 14th Avenue to the northwest, 60th Street and McDonald Avenue to the northeast, 86th Street to the south and 25th Avenue to the southeast.
It is well known as a Little Italy of Brooklyn due to its large Italian-American population. Bensonhurst also has the largest population of residents born in China of any neighborhood in New York City and is now home to Brooklyn's second Chinatown. The neighborhood accounts for 9.5% of the 330,000 Chinese-born residents of the city, based on data from 2007 to 2011.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Demographics
- 3 Ethnic enclaves
- 4 Geography
- 5 Police and crime
- 6 Fire safety
- 7 Health
- 8 Post offices and ZIP codes
- 9 Housing stock
- 10 Notable landmarks
- 11 Education
- 12 Public transportation
- 13 In popular culture
- 14 Notable people
- 15 See also
- 16 References
Bensonhurst derives its name from Egbert Benson (1789–1866), whose lands were sold by his children and grandchildren to James D. Lynch, a New York real estate developer. Lynch bought the old farmlands of the Benson family in the mid-1880s, and by 1888, began selling private lots in an area dubbed as Bensonhurst-by-the-Sea, now Bath Beach. The first sale of lands in "The New Seaside Resort" area was advertised in the July 24, 1888 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the combined population of Bensonhurst West and Bensonhurst East was 151,705, an increase of 8,499 (0.1%) from the 143,206 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 1,890.81 acres (765.18 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 75.7 inhabitants per acre (48,400/sq mi; 18,700/km2).
The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 48.7% (73,933) White, 0.7% (1,081) African American, 0.1% (121) Native American, 35.7% (54,099) Asian, 0% (38) Pacific Islander, 0.2% (319) from other races, and 1.2% (1,831) from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 13.4% (20,283) of the population.
The entirety of Community Board 11 had 204,829 inhabitants as of NYC Health's 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 83.8 years.:2, 20 This is higher than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods.:53 (PDF p. 84) Most inhabitants are middle-aged adults and youth: 20% are between the ages of 0–17, 31% between 25–44, and 26% between 45–64. The ratio of college-aged and elderly residents was lower, at 8% and 15% respectively.:2
As of 2016, the median household income in Community District 12 was $53,493. In 2018, an estimated 23% of Bensonhurst residents lived in poverty, compared to 21% in all of Brooklyn and 20% in all of New York City. Less than one in ten residents (8%) were unemployed, compared to 9% in the rest of both Brooklyn and New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 52% in Bensonhurst, about the same as the citywide and boroughwide rates of 52% and 51% respectively. Based on this calculation, as of 2018[update], Bensonhurst is considered to be un-gentrified relative to the rest of the city.:7
In the early 20th century, many Italians and Jewish migrants 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 was over 20,000 strong, according to the census of 2000. The Italian-speaking community, though, is becoming "increasingly elderly and isolated, with the small, tight-knit enclave in the city slowly disappearing as they give way to demographic changes."  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, located under the elevated BMT West End Line.
Around 1989, an influx of immigrants from China and the former USSR began to arrive, mainly from Southern China, Russia, Ukraine, and Armenia. In the 1990s, Bensonhurst rapidly grew in cultural diversity. Bensonhurst is home to many ethnic Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, Albanian, Bosnian, Greek, Turkish, Georgian, Uzbek, Arab, Palestinian, Egyptian, Lebanese, Pakistani, Mexican, Guatemalan, Salvadorian, Ecuadorian, and Puerto Rican Americans. In 2000, the New York City Department of City Planning determined that just over half of the residents were born in another country. By 2013, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city's foreign-born population had reached a record high, and that Bensonhurst had the city's second-highest number of foreign-born people with 77,700 foreign born immigrants in the neighborhood, just after Washington Heights.
Bensonhurst has long been well-known as a Little Italy of Brooklyn, containing a large Italian-American and Italian-immigrant population. The annual Festa di Santa Rosalia (commonly known as "the Feast" to locals), is held on 18th Avenue from Bay Ridge Parkway (75th Street) to 66th Street in late August or early September. "The Feast" is presented by Bensonhurst resident and 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.
Little Hong Kong/Little Guangdong
Below the West End Line, served by the D train along 86th Street between 18th Avenue and the intersection with Stillwell Avenue, is a small Brooklyn Chinatown (布鲁克林華埠). It remains intermixed with Italian, Jewish, and Russian residents, but in the 2010s, most of the new businesses between 18th Avenue and 25th Avenue, have been Chinese. 86th Street is home to a growing number of Chinese restaurants, including the 86 Wong Chinese Restaurant (one of the earliest Chinese businesses established in Bensonhurst), as well as Chinese grocery stores, salons, bakeries, and other types of businesses. The subway directly connects to Manhattan's Chinatown (紐約華埠), and indirectly to the Chinatown in Sunset Park, which is served by the N and W trains at the 8th Avenue station.
With the large migration of the Cantonese and some Fuzhouese people in Brooklyn now to Bensonhurst, as well as new Chinese immigration, other clusters of Chinese businesses and residences have also started to emerge in other parts of Bensonhurst such as 18th Avenue and Bay Parkway. These are connected to the Sunset Park Chinatown by the N and W trains.
According to a 2015 article in The New York Times, Bensonhurst's Chinese population is 31,658, and this population is primarily Cantonese-speaking. In addition the majority of Brooklyn's Cantonese population is concentrated in Bensonhurst, it is slowly replacing Manhattan's Chinatown as the primary Cantonese cultural center in New York City. In 2011, the New York Daily News reported that Manhattan's Chinatown Chinese population dropped from 34,554 to 28,681 from 2000 to 2010, and that it is continuing to decline due to the gentrification going on in Lower Manhattan. 
The Daily News also stated that 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 showed that Asians very often live in houses that are divided into studio apartments, which means the Asian population could be higher than indicated on censuses. The newly emerging Chinese enclaves in sections of Bensonhurst, and another one in Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay, are primarily Cantonese populated and are more of extensions of the Western Cantonese section of Manhattan's Chinatown or Little Hong Kong(小香港)/Little Guangdong(小廣東) or Cantonese Town (粵語埠). However, small numbers are Fuzhou- and Mandarin-speakers.
Chinese translation terms Bensonhurst as 本森社区.
As no official neighborhood designations are used in New York City, Bensonhurst does not have any official boundaries. Still, parts of Bath Beach, Mapleton, Dyker Heights, Gravesend, and Borough Park are sometimes considered parts of Bensonhurst. However, Bensonhurst-proper includes the area bounded by 86th Street, 14th Avenue, 60th Street, McDonald Avenue, Avenue P, and Bay Parkway.
Police and crime
The 62nd Precinct ranked 4rd safest out of 69 city precincts for per-capita crime in 2010. Historically, Bensonhurst has had lower crime than other neighborhoods in Brooklyn, though its mostly white and Asian population has made the area susceptible to racially-motivated crimes, such as the murder of Yusef Hawkins in 1989. With a non-fatal assault rate of 23 per 100,000 people, Bensonhurst's rate of violent crimes per capita is less than that of the city as a whole. The incarceration rate of 152 per 100,000 people is lower than that of the city as a whole.:8 The Precinct has a lower crime rate than in the 1990s, with crimes across all categories having decreased by 87.4% between 1990 and 2018. The precinct saw 2 murders, 20 rapes, 120 robberies, 148 felony assaults, 178 burglaries, 482 grand larcenies, and 67 grand larcenies auto in 2018.
Preterm and teenage births are less common in Bensonhurst than in other places citywide. In Bensonhurst, there were 84 preterm births per 1,000 live births (compared to 87 per 1,000 citywide), and 12.5 teenage births per 1,000 live births (compared to 19.3 per 1,000 citywide).:11 Bensonhurst has a high population of residents who are uninsured, or who receive healthcare through Medicaid. In 2018, this population of uninsured residents was estimated to be 13%, which is higher than the citywide rate of 12%.:14
The concentration of fine particulate matter, the deadliest type of air pollutant, in Bensonhurst is 0.007 milligrams per cubic metre (7.0×10−9 oz/cu ft), lower than the citywide and boroughwide averages.:9 Sixteen percent of Bensonhurst residents are smokers, which is higher the city average of 14% of residents being smokers.:13 In Bensonhurst, 21% of residents are obese, 12% are diabetic, and 16% have high blood pressure—compared to the citywide averages of 24%, 11%, and 28% respectively.:16 In addition, 14% of children are obese, compared to the citywide average of 20%.:12
Ninety percent of residents eat some fruits and vegetables every day, which is slightly higher than the city's average of 87%. In 2018, 65% of residents described their health as "good," "very good," or "excellent," less than the city's average of 78%.:13 For every supermarket in Bensonhurst, there are 27 bodegas.:10
The Bay Ridge/Dyker Heights/Bensonhurst area does not have any hospitals. However, the Coney Island Hospital, NYU Langone Hospital – Brooklyn, and Maimonides Medical Center are located in nearby neighborhoods.:19–20
Post offices and ZIP codes
Bensonhurst is covered by ZIP Codes 11204 north of Bay Ridge Parkway, and 11214 south of Bay Ridge Parkway. The United States Postal Service's Parkville Station is located at 6618 20th Avenue. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Another post office, the Bath Beach Station, is located at 1865 Benson Avenue.
Many of Bensonhurst's houses are attached or semidetached, though fully detached houses can be found in the west near Dyker Heights. These are mostly 20th century houses made of brick, stucco, and stone, with aluminum siding facades. There are also a cluster of apartment buildings throughout the neighborhood. After rezoning in the 2000s, many houses dating back over 90 years are being torn down and replaced by three-story brick apartment buildings and multi-family condominiums. They are sometimes called "Fedders Houses" for their distinctive, standard air conditioner sleeves. From 2002 to 2005, 1,200 new housing units in Bensonhurst were approved to accommodate the growing population including many foreign-born residents. With an increase in the area's real estate values, long-time homeowners sold their houses.
- 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).
- Magen David Synagogue
- The Historical New Utrecht Church (serving the community since 1677) is the fourth-oldest Reformed Church in America.
- Lenny's Pizza, made famous by John Travolta in the opening sequence of Saturday Night Fever, is still operating.
Bensonhurst generally has a lower ratio of college-educated residents than the rest of the city. While 36% of the population have a college education or higher, 26% have less than a high school education and 38% are high school graduates or have some college education. By contrast, 40% of Brooklynites and 38% of city residents have a college education or higher.:6 The percentage of Bensonhurst students excelling in math has been increasing, with math achievement rising from 50 percent in 2000 to 71 percent in 2011, though reading achievement within the same time period stayed steady at 52%.
Bensonhurst's rate of elementary school student absenteeism is lower than the rest of New York City. In Bensonhurst, 12% of elementary school students missed twenty or more days per school year, compared to the citywide average of 20% of students.:24 (PDF p. 55):6 Additionally, 85% of high school students in Bensonhurst graduate on time, higher than the citywide average of 75% of students.:6
Zoned schools include:
High schools include:
Colleges and Universities
The Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) operates two libraries in Bensonhurst. The Highlawn branch is located at 1664 West 13th Street, near the intersection with Kings Highway. The branch was renovated in 2005–2006. Unlike most other BPL branches, it contains a circular reading room with multicolored walls.
The New Utrecht branch is located at 1743 86th Street, near Bay 17th Street. It was founded in 1894 as the Free Library of the Town of New Utrecht and became a BPL branch in 1901. The current building opened in 1956.
The D train, which runs on the BMT West End Line above 86th Street, provides a direct connection to Grand Street in Manhattan while the N and W trains, which run on the BMT Sea Beach Line near 63rd Street, provide a direct connection to Canal Street. This provides convenient commutes into Manhattan's Chinatown for the growing Bensonhurst Chinese population. 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 IND Culver Line along McDonald Avenue, carrying the F train, also runs through the most northeastern end of Bensonhurst between the Bay Parkway and Kings Highway stations.
Subway stations in the neighborhood include New Utrecht Avenue / 62nd Street, 71st Street, 79th Street, 18th Avenue, 18th Avenue, 20th Avenue, 20th Avenue, Bay Parkway, Bay Parkway, 25th Avenue, Avenue N and Avenue P.
In popular culture
Bensonhurst has long been portrayed in film, art, and literature:
- Thomas Wolfe mentions it in the 1930s in his short story, "Only The Dead Know Brooklyn," noted for being written entirely in "Brooklynese."
- Later in the 1950s, Bensonhurst was brought to fame by the television series The Honeymooners
- In the 1970s, Welcome Back, Kotter was set here.
- Aired 1991–1993 on CBS television, Brooklyn Bridge was set here during 1956–57.
- Jungle Fever
- The Warriors
- The Bensonhurst Spelling Bee by Funny or Die with Kelly Ripa, featured a spelling bee parody, making fun of stereotypical Italian Americans.
- The 1972 song "Bensonhurst Blues" was 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.
- Several characters from the soap opera General Hospital, most notably Sonny Corinthos, grew up in Bensonhurst.
- The French Connection (1971) took place along 86th Street, most notably its famed car-chase scene.
- Brooklyn 11223, an American reality-TV series about a divided group of friends, has also been filmed in parts of Bensonhurst.
- Mob Wives filmed some scenes in Bensonhurst at the local boxing joint, Evolution Boxing, where Drita D'Avano is trained by Anthony Pezzolanti.
- Spike of Bensonhurst was filmed around Bensonhurst and won a Spirit Award.
- The opening scene of Saturday Night Fever features John Travolta walking down 86th Street and grabbing slices to eat at Lenny's Pizza.
- The 79th-Street station was popularized in opening credits of Welcome Back, Kotter.
- The title character in the movie The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, played by Andrew Dice Clay, is from Bensonhurst.
Notable current and former residents of Bensonhurst include:
- Steve Augeri (born 1959), musician.
- Rich Aurilia (born 1971), baseball player for the San Francisco Giants
- Scott Baio (born 1960), actor
- Abe Burrows (1910–85), playwright, writer of Guys and Dolls and Can-Can
- Kerry Butler (born 1971), actress
- Victor Calderone (born 1967), club music DJ and producer
- Vincent D'Onofrio (born 1959), actor Law & Order: Criminal Intent
- Vic Damone (1928–2018), singer
- Millie Deegan (1919–2002), professional baseball player in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
- Perry Farrell (born 1959), musician
- Lou Ferrigno (born 1951), actor born in Bensonhurst in 1951 and famously known as the Incredible Hulk
- Joey Fatone (born 1977), singer (member of boy band 'N Sync)
- Jerry Ferrara (born 1979), actor Entourage
- Daniel Franzese (born 1978), actor (film Mean Girls)
- Harvey Fierstein (born 1954), actor, playwright, and screenwriter
- Marshall Flaum (1925–2010), documentary filmmaker
- John Franco (born 1960), former New York Mets baseball player
- Jacque Fresco (1916–2017), founder and director of the Venus Project
- Daniel Glass (born 1956), music producer
- Gary David Goldberg (1944–2013), television producer
- Elliott Gould (born 1938), actor
- Philip Habib (1920–92), diplomat
- Buddy Hackett (1924–2003), comedian
- Kenny Hickey (born 1966), Johnny Kelly (born 1968), and Peter Steele (1962–2010), (rock band Type O negative)
- Curly Howard (1903–52), of the Three Stooges
- Moe Howard (1897–75), of the Three Stooges
- Shemp Howard (1895–55), of the Three Stooges
- Richard Jeni (1957–2007), comedian
- Skeery Jones (radio producer) for Z100 NY Elvis Duran and the Morning Show)
- Gabe Kaplan (born 1945), actor, comedian, and professional poker player
- Larry King (born 1933), talk-show host
- Artie Kornfeld (born 1942), songwriter, music producer, creator of Woodstock Music and Arts Festival 1969
- Sandy Koufax (born 1935), baseball player, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Herbie Kronowitz (1923–2012), boxer
- Adam Lazzara (born 1982), lead singer of local band Taking Back Sunday
- Paul Lo Duca (born 1972), baseball player
- Paul Malignaggi (born 1980), professional boxer
- Tony Mamaluke (born 1977), former Extreme Championship Wrestling star
- Philomena Marano (born 1952), artist
- Paul Marks (born 1926), scientist
- Robert Merrill (1917–2004), operatic baritone
- Alyssa Milano (born 1972), actress
- Jerrold Nadler (born 1947), Congressman based in Manhattan who grew up in Bensonhurst and represents part of the area
- Sam Nahem (1915–2004), Major League Baseball pitcher
- Man Parrish (born 1958), music producer and artist
- Rhea Perlman (born 1948), actress
- Leah Remini (born 1970), actress
- Carl Sagan (1934–96), astronomer, teacher, author
- Robert Sapolsky (born 1957), neuroendocrinologist, professor, author
- Steve Schirripa (born 1957), actor in HBO's The Sopranos
- John Serry Sr. (1915-2003), concert accordionist, composer, arranger, educator
- Tony Sirico (born 1942), actor in HBO's The Sopranos
- Ralph Snyderman, physician, scientist, administrator
- Paul Sorvino, (born 1939), actor famous for his role in Goodfellas and father of Mira Sorvino
- Ray Suarez (born 1957), news correspondent
- Anthony J. Terlato, winemaker, Horatio Alger Award winner, "Father of Pinot Grigio" in the U.S.
- Frank P. Tomasulo (born 1947), film professor, academic administrator, journal editor, author
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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.|
- Chinatowns in the United States
- Chinatown, Manhattan (紐約華埠)
- Little Fuzhou (小福州)
- Chinatown, Brooklyn (布鲁克林華埠)
- Chinatown, Flushing (法拉盛華埠)
- Chinatown, Elmhurst (唐人街, 艾姆赫斯特)
- Corona, Queens
- Chinatown, Avenue U (唐人街, U大道)
- List of Italian American neighborhoods
- Little Italy, Manhattan
- Little Italy, Bronx
- Italians in New York City
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- Berman, Eliza. "Why Margot Robbie Thought Her Career Was Over After Making The Wolf of Wall Street", Time, August 4, 2016. Accessed September 6, 2016. "Naomi Lapaglia, the foul-mouthed, platinum-haired lover-turned-wife she played in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, is from Bay Ridge, just a handful of blocks away from Bensonhurst. That's the birthplace of Harley Quinn, the bonkers baddie Robbie portrays in DC Comics' supervillain convention Suicide Squad, out Friday."
- West, Abby. "General Hospital: Maurice Benard on Sonny's journey home to Brooklyn", Entertainment Weekly, November 28, 2011. Accessed September 6, 2016. "'I'm very excited about the stuff I've done in the last month, when Sonny and Kate [Kelly Sullivan] go to Bensonhurst,' says Benard of episodes that kick off today and deal with Sonny's childhood abuse at the hands of his stepfather.... Sonny and Kate leave their upstate New York town for the Brooklyn neighborhood they grew up in as part of an effort to help Sonny – who recently spiraled out of control after Brenda (Vanessa Marcil) left him – deal with his anger/abandonment issues."
- Atkinson, Michael. "Reel Brooklyn: The French Connection: Gravesend/Bensonhurst", Brooklyn Magazine, August 15, 2016. Accessed September 6, 2016. "Friedkin shot and cut this chaos so clearly it practically serves as its own map: after a French hood takes a shot at Hackman's hothead from a rooftop in Gravesend, he boards the elevated B train at Bay 50th Street station, and Hackman grabs someone's LeMans and follows the train at illegal speeds under the platforms, up Stillwell Avenue, north onto 86th Street and then New Utrecht Avenue. The train doesn't stop—the assassin makes the driver blow through the stations, after offing a few transit cops—and the LeMans races it across Bensonhurst for some 26 blocks, through a hairy litany of crashes, near-misses, screaming pedestrians, and flat-out outlaw driving, until the runaway train meets another at 62nd Street Station, and crashes."
- Boyar, Jay. "Dice Man's Ford Fairlane Is One For The Junkyard", Orlando Sentinel, July 13, 1990. Accessed September 6, 2016. "In The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Clay plays the title character, a Dice-like Los Angeles detective (by way of Bensonhurst, N.Y.) who specializes in solving crimes involving the rock-music industry."
- Barron, James; Stevens, Kimberly; and Brescia, Joe. "PUBLIC LIVES", The New York Times, May 29, 1998. Retrieved October 9, 2010.
- "Vic Damone, Who Crooned His Way to Postwar Popularity, Dies at 89". The New York Times. February 12, 2018.
- Martin, Douglas (July 28, 2002). "Millie Deegan, 82, Pioneer In Women's Baseball League". The New York Times. Retrieved September 22, 2009.
Mildred Eleanor Deegan was born on Dec. 11, 1919, in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bensonhurst.... She excelled in track and field at Lincoln High School, and after graduation played amateur softball with a team called the Americanettes.
- Martin, Douglas. "Marshall Flaum, Documentary Filmmaker, Dies at 85", The New York Times, October 8, 2010. Retrieved October 9, 2010.