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Bensonhurst is a neighborhood located in the southwestern part of the New York City borough of Brooklyn.


Sometimes erroneously thought to include all or parts of such neighborhoods as Bath Beach, Dyker Heights, and Borough Park, or to be defined by the streets where the concentration of Italian residents is most dense, Bensonhurst actually has a clearly defined border, with Gravesend to the southeast, Midwood to the east, Borough Park to the north, Dyker Heights to the west, and Bath Beach to the southwest.[citation needed] Starting at the neighborhood’s southern tip at the corner of Stillwell Avenue and 86th Street, the border runs north along Stillwell Avenue to Avenue P, east to McDonald Avenue, north to 60th Street, northwest to Fort Hamilton Parkway, southwest to Bay Ridge Avenue, southeast to 14th avenue, south to 86th Street, and southeast back to Stillwell Avenue.

Bensonhurst is served by two branches of the New York City Subway system: the D elevated subway line, also called the BMT West End Line, at 62nd Street, 71st Street, 79th Street, 18th Avenue, 20th Avenue, Bay Parkway, and 25th Avenue Stations; and the N open-cut line, (also called the BMT Sea Beach Line), at Fort Hamilton Parkway, New Utrecht Avenue, 18th Avenue, 20th Avenue, and Bay Parkway Stations.The D elevated and the N open-cut lines also have a free transfer in the neighborhood at the 62nd Street D Station and the New Utrecht Avenue N Station. Bensonhurst is patrolled by the NYPD’s 62nd Precinct.[1]


Bensonhurst derives its name from Arthur W. Benson, the former president of Brooklyn Gas, who in 1835 began buying farmland that formerly belonged to the Polhemus family. Between 1835 and 1850 Benson divided the farmland into generous lots that were sold in the following decades as part of the newly created suburb of Bensonhurst by the Sea (current day Bath Beach section),[2] which was annexed into the 30th Ward of Brooklyn in the 1890s.

The U.S. Post Office-Parkville Station located at 6618 20th Ave., was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.[3]


In the early 1900s, many Italians and Jews moved into the neighborhood, and prior to World War II the neighborhood was about equally Jewish and Italian. In the 1950s, there was an influx of immigrants from southern Italy and most of the Jewish population left the neighborhood, leaving the area predominantly Italian. Bensonhurst is heavily Italian-American, and it is usually considered the main “Little Italy” of Brooklyn. The Italian-speaking community remains over 20,000 strong, according to the census of 2000. However, the Italian-speaking community is becoming “increasingly elderly and isolated, with the small, tight-knit enclaves they built around the city slowly disappearing as they give way to demographic changes.” [4] 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, lined by the arches of the elevated BMT West End Subway Line. The 18th Avenue Station was popularized in opening credits of Welcome Back, Kotter.

In 2000, an influx of Chinese and Former Soviet Union immigrants began to arrive. Chinese-American residents and Chinese immigrants have opened many restaurants and shops along 18th Avenue, Bay Parkway and 86th Street. The Former Soviet Union (Jews-refugee) population has dissipated in recent years.

Chinatown, Bensonhurst (唐人街, 本森社区)

Over the years after Brooklyn’s Chinatown on 8th Avenue in Sunset Park was established, Brooklyn’s Chinese population has very significantly spread out into the Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Homecrest, and Sheepshead Bay neighborhoods.[5][6]Below the D-line elevated subway, along on 86th Street between 18th Avenue and Stillwell Avenue, is now home to an emerging southern Brooklyn’s third Chinatown,[7] along with the Sunset Park Chinatown and the Avenue U Chinatown. The D trains happen to be directly connected from the Grand Street station in Manhattan’s Chinatown to the D train stops within this growing Chinese enclave from 18th Avenue to 25th Avenue. In a way it is becoming a 3rd extension of Manhattan’s Chinatown.[8] In a way it also becoming a 2nd extension of Brooklyn’s first established Chinatown in Sunset Park since D trains are transferable to the N trains to travel to Brooklyn’s first established Chinatown in Sunset Park.[9] Within recent years, new businesses opening in this portion of Bensonhurst’s 86th Street, especially between Bay Parkway and 25th Avenue have been Chinese. The emerging Bensonhurst Chinatown and Avenue U Chinatown are now increasingly carrying the majority of the Cantonese population in Brooklyn as the Cantonese dissipate from the main Brooklyn Chinatown in Sunset Park. It is slowly becoming fully developed as a Chinatown as the population and businesses are growing continuously and with the current growing rate of the Chinese population, it could possibly surpass Brooklyn’s Avenue U Chinatown. Homecrest Community Services, which serve to Brooklyn’s Chinese population and located around Brooklyn’s Avenue U Chinatown in the Homecrest section also has a satellite office in Bensonhurst’s developing Chinatown.[10]With the migration of the Cantonese in Brooklyn now to Bensonhurst, and along with new Chinese immigration, large clusters of Chinese people and businesses in different parts of Bensonhurst have grown pushing out all other ethnic groups at a rate never seen before. It is possible that more small Chinatowns might form as the Chinese population and number of Chinese businesses continue to grow in various sections of Bensonhurst as it can be witnessed. The Chinese residents calls Bensonhurst in Chinese translation, 本森社区 and calls 86th street as 八十六街. [11][12][13][14][15][16]

According to the Daily News, Brooklyn’s Asian population, mainly of Chinese have grown tremendously not only in the Sunset Park area, but also in Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, and Borough Park. Just only in Bensonhurst, from 2000–2010 the Asian population increased by 57%. The study also shows that Asians very often live in houses that are divided into studio apartments, which means there is a possibility that the increased Asian population could be more than what the census represents and causing stressors on the growing Asian population in Brooklyn.[17]

Murder of Yusuf Hawkins

On August 23, 1989, a 16-year-old African-American named Yusuf Hawkins was shot and killed in Bensonhurst, after he and three friends had been attacked by a group of mostly Italian-American youths. At least four neighborhood residents were tried and convicted of charges related to the assault and murder.

In connection with the Hawkins murder several trials ensued which were prosecuted by a team of veteran homicide prosecutors including James Kohler, Edward Boyar, Paul Burns, Steven Schwartz and Douglas Nadjari.[18] Reverend Al Sharpton led several protest marches through the streets of Bensonhurst. On January 12, 1991, before one such march, neighborhood resident Michael Riccardi tried to kill Sharpton by stabbing him in the chest. Riccardi later remorsefully said that he “thought the act would make me a hero in my community.” Sharpton recovered from his wounds, and later asked the judge for leniency when Riccardi was sentenced. The two subsequently reconciled.

Brooklyn’s “Little Italy”

Bensonhurst was stereotyped as a haven for Mafia members (Gus Farace, a reputed mob associate suspected of murdering a federal drug-enforcement agent, was found shot to death in a parked car there on November 17, 1989, and two years later the neighborhood provided the setting for the mob-themed film Out for Justice starring Steven Seagal & is known as the hometown of notorious soap opera [General Hospital] mobster, Sonny Cortinthos.), many of whom are believed to maintain residences in Dyker Heights, a nearby neighborhood.

On April 13, 1986, while approaching his car after leaving a meeting at the Veterans & Friends Social Club on 86th St. in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, Frank DeCicco was killed by a car bomb explosion. Lucchese crime family soldier Frank “Frankie Hearts” Bellino, who was with DeCicco, lost several toes. However, the intended target, John Gotti, was not there. Turncoats and informants would later reveal that the order for the hit came from Genovese crime family boss Vincent Gigante, who did not like Gotti or approve of him killing Paul Castellano without approval from the Commission, and conspired in his murder with Lucchese crime family leaders Vittorio “Vic” Amuso and Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso.

Currently the neighborhood is undergoing a transformation; many of the original houses dating back over 90 years ago are being torn down and replaced by three-story brick apartment buildings and multi-family condominiums, sometimes referred to as “Fedders Houses” for their distinctive air conditioner sleeves.

Visitors from throughout the New York City metropolitan area flock to the neighborhood each year in late August or early September to take part in the colorful Festa di Santa Rosalia (commonly known simply as The Feast to locals), held on 18th Avenue from Bay Ridge Parkway (75th Street) to 66th Street. “The Feast” is presented by Bensonhurst resident and skilled self promoter Franco Corrado, as well as the Santa Rosalia Society on 18th Avenue. Born in Rome, Italy, 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 (a sizable portion of Bensonhurst’s Italian American residents are of Sicilian heritage).[citation needed] The annual end-of-summer celebration attracts thousands.

Immediately after Italy’s victory at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, a large portion of Bensonhurst’s Italian American community, as well as several thousand participants from all over the tri-state area, participated in a large victory celebration. Several local cafés and businesses paid for a city permit to close 18th Avenue to commercial traffic. It was held on the same route as the St. Rosalia Feast, but stretched from 65th street to nearly 80th Street. The celebration began as soon as the Italian team won, until about 7:00 p.m.

Bath Beach Bay Ridge Bensonhurst Borough Park Dyker Heights Fort Hamilton New Utrecht

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