A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from June 21, 2005
"Finntown," in the Sunset Park area of Brooklyn, was a popular area for immigrants from Finland in the 1880s and 1890s, but it's barely recognizable as Finntown today. The Finns had perhaps New York's first "co-op" apartments.

A nearby neighborhood to Finntown was Little Norway.

Wikipedia: Sunset Park, Brooklyn
Sunset Park is a neighborhood in the western section of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, USA. It is bounded by the Prospect Expressway or 17th Street and Park Slope on the north, and 8th Avenue Borough Park on the east, the old Long Island Railroad cut or 65th Street and Bay Ridge on the south and Upper New York Bay on the west. Sunset Park is patrolled by the NYPD's 72nd Precinct.

There is a namesake city park within the neighborhood, located between 41st and 44th Streets and 5th and 7th Avenues, which is the second highest point in Brooklyn (for the highest point in Brooklyn, see the Green-Wood Cemetery entry). The hilly terrain of the park affords visitors magnificent views of Downtown Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge, Lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, Staten Island and New Jersey beyond. The "main drag" of the neighborhood lies along Fifth Avenue. The area is also home to the Jackie Gleason Bus Depot.

Early years
In the heyday of the New York Harbor's dominance of North American shipping during the 19th Century, Sunset Park grew rapidly, largely as a result of Irish, Polish, Finnish and Norwegian immigrant families moving to the area. The neighborhood grew up around the Bush Terminal of Irving T. Bush, a model industrial park completed in 1895 between 39th and 53d Streets, and continued to grow through World War II, when the Brooklyn Army Terminal between 53d and 66th Streets employed more than 10,000 civilians to ship 80% of all American supplies and troops.

Sunset Park's fortunes began to decline after the war. The rise of truck-based freight shipping and ports in New Jersey, the growth of suburban sprawl and white flight, the closing of the Army Terminal, and the decreasing importance of heavy industry in the American northeast, all became factors. Families who had lived in the community for decades began moving out, and the homes in the neighborhood — largely modest but attractive rowhouses — lost value. The construction of the Gowanus Expressway in 1941 effectively cut the neighborhood off from the harbor, which further wounded the area, in a fashion often associated with the expressway's builder: power-broker Robert Moses. Until the early 1980s, Sunset Park's main population was made up of Norwegian Americans who began leaving the neighborhood during the white flight years of the 1970s and 1980s.

New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
The neighborhood of Sunset Park, named for the park built in the 1890s, was home to waves of European immigrants, beginning with groups of Irish fleeing the 1840s potato famine. Norwegians and Finns followed in 1880s and 1890s, establishing sections of Sunset Park known as “Little Norway” and “Finntown” in the early 1900s.

9 October 1927, Los Angeles (CA) Times, "Every Other Thursday" by Edna Ferber, pg. 22:
It was a long trip to Finntown, in Brooklyn, where Abel and Anni lived.

1 December 1939, New York (NY) Times, "Finns Here Angry Over Soviet Move," pg. 7:
Mr. Halonen, editorial chief of the New Yorkin Untiset (New York News), spoke particularly of the reaction of "Finntown," a Finnish community in Brooklyn bounded by Seventh and Ninth Avenues and by Thirty-ninth and Forty-fifth Streets.

4 February 1940, New York (NY) Times, "Finnish Life in New York," pg. 109:
Manhattan's principal Finnish settlement is in Harlem; the district it occupies is still the social center for most of the Finns in New York City despite their tendency in recent years to move to less-crowded areas. The city's most integrated Finnish community, known in the neighborhood as "Finn Town," is located in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn.
The Finns were pioneers in the cooperative movement in this country, and they were building cooperative apartment houses in New York City as early as 1916. Their "osuukauppa" (cooperative stores) in the metropolis have become as famous as their Minnesota creameries operated on the same principle.

20 August 1972, New York (NY) Times, "Brooklyn's Finntown Losing Its Flavor" by Ari L. Goldman, pg. BQLI102:
The sauna - the dry-heat bath that is almost a trademark of Finland - is not as popular now as it was in the first half of the century, when 5,000 Finns lived in this five-square-block area of the Bay Ridge section. Resident estimate that there are 1,500 Finns left in Finntown; most are elderly single women and widows occupying apartments in the Finnish housing cooperatives.
Finntown's first cooperative houses were built in 1917. The Finns brought the idea for the co-ops from their homeland, and had the concept introduced in the State Legislature in Albany.

14 January 1996, New York (NY) Times, "Cold Days for Finnish Society" by Mark Francis Cohen, pg. CY9:
"Finntown" now is home to other immigrants.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNeighborhoods • Tuesday, June 21, 2005 • Permalink

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