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Bensonhurst is a residential neighborhood in the southwestern section of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The neighborhood is bordered on the northwest by 14th Avenue, on the northeast by 65th Street, on the southeast by Avenue P and 22nd Avenue, and on the southwest by 86th Street. It is adjacent to the neighborhoods of Dyker Heights to the northwest, Borough Park and Mapleton to the northeast, Bath Beach to the southwest, and Gravesend to the southeast.
Bensonhurst contains several major ethnic enclaves. It is 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 and Hong Kong 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.
Stillwell Avenue at Bay Parkway and Bay Ridge Parkway
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 from 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.
Through the mid-20th century, Bensonhurst developed as an Italian and Jewish enclave. Despite a wave of commercial development in the 1980s, some land had remained undeveloped by then. By the early 2000s, condominiums were being built in Bensonhurst, and it had turned into a diverse community of Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Middle-Eastern, and Russian residents.
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 (5.9%) 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 low-income and not gentrifying relative to the rest of the city.:7
18th Ave and 66th St
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 1940s, under pressure of an influx of immigrants from southern Italy moving in, leaving the area predominantly Italian. Traditionally, most of the Italians in the area lived in the small apartment buildings centered around the Bay Parkway corridor, with the Jews mostly in the private homes.
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. In addition, despite changing demographics over the recent years, Bensonhurst is still home to one of the largest Italian speaking communities outside of Italy and is still home to the largest Sicilian and Neapolitan speaking communities outside of Sicily and Naples, respectively.
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.
Like Lower Manhattan's Little Italy, Bensonhurst's Little Italy and its Italian-American population is declining, with the rapid expansion of its Chinatown and Chinese population.
Below the West End Line, served by the train along 86th Street between 18th Avenue and the intersection with Stillwell Avenue, is a small emerging Brooklyn Chinatown (). 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 (?), and indirectly to the Chinatown in Sunset Park, which is served by the and 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, creating other newer small emerging Chinatowns in Bensonhurst in addition to the one on 86th Street under the D train. These are connected to the Sunset Park Chinatown by the and trains.
The Flushing-based New World Shopping Center, which owns and operates a Chinese supermarket called Jmart Supermarket inside their shopping center, opened a second branch of Jmart Supermarket in Bensonhurst in 2018. It is the neighborhood's largest Chinese Asian style supermarket. The Jmart is located in a former Waldbaum's.
According to a 2015 article in The New York Times, Bensonhurst's Chinese population is 31,658, and this population is primarily Cantonese-speaking from Mainland China's Guangdong Province and Hong Kong. In addition, the majority of Brooklyn's Cantonese population is concentrated in Bensonhurst, and is slowly replacing Manhattan's Chinatown as the largest primary Cantonese cultural center in New York City resulting in Bensonhurst increasingly becoming the main largest attraction for newly arriving Cantonese immigrants into New York City with Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay as a smaller secondary attraction. 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, which has spurred the increasing growth of newer Chinatowns in Brooklyn including in Queens. As of the 2010s, the current Chinese population in Bensonhurst has grown so much that it is enough to create another large Chinatown surpassing Manhattan's Chinatown and nearly being as big as Sunset Park's Chinatown. However, unlike in Sunset Park where the Chinese community is highly concentrated, the Chinese community in Bensonhurst is split into several sections, such as 18th Avenue, Bay Parkway, and 86th Street.
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.
Chinese translation terms Bensonhurst as ?.
New York City's largest Hong Kong community
Further, Bensonhurst and the nearby neighborhood of Bath Beach collectively have the largest concentration of Hong Kong immigrants in New York City. The 2010 census information shows that Bensonhurst has 3,723 Hong Kong residents, while Bath Beach has 1,049 Hong Kong residents.
Land use and terrain
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 clusters of apartment buildings throughout the neighborhood. After rezoning in the 2000s, many short single-family homes were 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, which includes many foreign-born residents. With an increase in the area's real estate values, long-time homeowners sold their houses.
Sons of Israel Synagogue
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, Stillwell Ave. and Bay Parkway.
Police and crime
The NYPD's 62nd Precinct is located at 1925 Bath Avenue.
The 62nd Precinct ranked 4th safest out of 69 patrol areas 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. As of 2018[update], 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 reported 2 murders, 20 rapes, 120 robberies, 148 felony assaults, 178 burglaries, 482 grand larcenies, and 67 grand larcenies auto in 2018.
As of 2018[update], preterm births and births to teenage mothers 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 births to teenage mothers 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
Bensonhurst generally has a lower ratio of college-educated residents than the rest of the city as of 2018[update]. While 36% of residents age 25 and older 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
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn operates Catholic schools in the borough. Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Bensonhurst was nicknamed "OLG" in the neighborhood. In 2012 the school had 217 students, but by 2019 enrollment was 120. That year its fund balance was $559,633 and its deficit was $215,377. It closed in 2019.
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.
^Holter, Lauren. "City Living: Bensonhurst, Brooklyn's Little Italy, is now teeming with diversity", AM New York, February 11, 2015. Accessed August 21, 2016. "The neighborhood's Italian roots are still visible in the many eateries and specialty shops nestled along the tree-lined streets of Brooklyn's Little Italy, including Lenny's Pizza, made famous by its cameo in the opening scene of Saturday Night Fever. However, an influx of Chinese, Russian, Mexican and Middle Eastern immigrants has diversified the area for a few decades."
^Robbins, Liz. "With an Influx of Newcomers, Little Chinatowns Dot a Changing Brooklyn", The New York Times, April 15, 2015. Accessed August 26, 2016. "As the sidewalks on Eighth Avenue overflow with new arrivals in Sunset Park, Brooklyn's first Chinatown, and grocery stores proliferate along 86th Street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn's second Chinatown, immigrants have been pushing southeast toward the ocean. ... Bensonhurst has the largest number of Chinese-born residents of any neighborhood in the city, with 31,658, narrowly edging the populations in Flushing, Queens, and Sunset Park, according to a 2013 city report that offered the most recent data on immigrant New Yorkers."
^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."
^Barron, James; Stevens, Kimberly; and Brescia, Joe. "Public Lives", The New York Times, May 29, 1998. Accessed September 21, 2019. "Steve Augeri, who sang with bands like Tall Stories and Tyketto in Manhattan in the 1980s, had all but given up on a regular spot with a major group. To pay the bills, he became a house painter in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, then a repairman for the Gap in Manhattan."
^Rosenblum, Constance. "Brooklyn boy grows up and OUT", New York Daily News, January 30, 1977. Accessed August 24, 2020. "These kids adore Pumping Iron, and what they love best about it is Lou Ferrigno, a two-time Mr. Universe from Bensonhurst, who is featured in the movie."
^Firestone, David. "Public Lives; An Amiable Defender of Colleges Under Fire", The New York Times, February 6, 1998. Accessed September 21, 2019. "Mr. Goldstein, 65, is a bearish man with a slow, earnest speaking style and the sure-footed Brooklyn instincts of a politician rather than an educator. Born in Bensonhurst, he worked his way up through CUNY from an instructor's post, and long ago decided that he preferred the backslap to the cannon-fire political style practiced by Mr. Giuliani."
^Houberman, J. "The Goulden Age", The Village Voice, April 10, 2007. Accessed August 26, 2020. "Yeah, baby! Gould rocketed out of nowhere (or rather, Bensonhurst by way of Broadway) to the fifth spot on the 1970 exhibitor's poll of box-office stars."
^Alexander, John. "Beloved Brooklyn-based TV series Welcome Back, Kotter debuted 44 years ago", Brooklyn Reporter, September 9, 2019. Accessed August 26, 2020. "The show debuted on Sept. 9, 1975. Comedian Gabe Kaplan played title character Gabe Kotter, who returns to teach at his alma mater. Kaplan grew up in Bensonhurst and attended New Utrecht High School, which doubled as the fictional James Buchanan High in the TV series."
^Harris, Elizabeth A. "Not All Make the Cut in a City Filled With Landmarks", The New York Times, October 1, 2012. Accessed August 26, 2020. "Some have sought, for example, an evaluation of a cheerless little spot underneath a bridge, or a seemingly unremarkable house in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, which happened to be the childhood home of the talk-show host Larry King."