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Sunset Park

Sunset Park and Pool

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

For outdoor pool details, including hours and rules, please visit our Free Outdoor Pools page.

The site, named Sunset Park from the outset, presumably derives its name from its vantage point on a hill facing west toward Upper New York Bay. The bluff of Sunset Park affords a thrilling view of the harbor, including the rugged skyline of Manhattan, the inspiring Statue of Liberty, the green hills of Staten Island and New Jersey, and the diverse neighborhoods of Brooklyn. The area surrounding the park was acquired by the Dutch in the 1600s. The land remained relatively undeveloped until the beginning of the 19th century when Irish immigrants settled the area. By the 1880 and 1890s, a large Scandinavian community had been established.

The first parcel of land for this property was acquired in 1891 by the City of Brooklyn for the purposes of a park. By 1905 Sunset Park had been expanded to its present size. Rustic retaining walls, a man-made pond, a six-hole golf course, a neo-classical shelter, and a carousel were original features of the park developed between 1898 and 1911. Landscaping included numerous conifers and vines. Large groups of rhododendrons were planted near the pond. In 1935 a new park design was implemented, and the pond, golf course, shelter and carousel were removed.

The Sunset Park Pool and Play Center was opened in 1936 as part of a massive Works Progress Administration (WPA) capital construction program. Architect Aymar Embury II created a neo-classical/Art Deco design for Sunset Pool. The vertical columns and diamond-motif brickwork were typical of many park buildings of the WPA era. Sunset Pool was one of eleven outdoor public pools that opened throughout New York City in one summer. The pools were among the most remarkable public recreational facilities in the country; they represented the forefront of design and technology. The influence of the pools extended throughout entire communities, attracting aspiring athletes and neighborhood children and changing the way millions of New Yorkers spent their leisure time.

Sunset Pool received an extensive $5 million restoration in 1984, including reconstruction of the pool, bathhouse, and comfort station, and installation of a new filtration system. The playground was expanded in 1988 with new play equipment such as the sunburst spray fountain and kindergarten swings. Several benches were added to the perimeter of the play area. Students from school district 15 designed and painted the murals inside the bathhouse to portray their park, their neighborhood, and their city.

Park Information

Directions to Sunset Park

Know Before You Go

Recreation CentersSunset Park Recreation Center

On Monday, October 14, 2019, this recreation center will close at 5:00 p.m. in observance of Columbus Day.

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