By Yvette Brown
At one time, Sunnyside embodied pastoral village life. The area consisted of gardens shared by private homes during the 1920s. Now the neighborhood has been shaped by pressures to adapt, yet still conserve the village appeal.
Once the Queensboro Bridge opened in 1909 and the elevated line that now carries the 7 train over Queens Boulevard opened in 1917, the area of Sunnyside grew rapidly.
In 1850, there was a railroad that had been built across from the Sunnyside Hotel, but rather than make that location the center of the neighborhood, Sunnyside shifted down south to allow for rail yards designed by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1910. This eventually led to the development of rows of attached houses and apartment buildings in the 1920s.
Today the neighborhood is filled with different cultures from German to Middle Eastern, South American to Korean and the influence comes from the abundance of international restaurants. On Queens Boulevard within Sunnyside, Dazies Restaurant serves Italian food, Hemsin serves Turkish food, Ariyoshi has Japanese fare and on Greenpoint Avenue El Comelon serves Salvadorian and Colombian food. Skillman Avenue has plenty of places to shop. It is also the site of an annual street fair, which is hosted in September by the Sunnyside Foundation Community Planning and Preservation.
Sunnyside Gardens, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, is an area that holds about 1,500 houses and a three-acre private park, only one of two private parks in NYC.
A few famous people have come from Sunnyside Gardens including jazz legend Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke, influential writer and critic Lewis Mumford, Judy Holliday, Perry Cuomo, Rudy Vallee, and Hap Moran.