Sunset Park on a sunny day

July 23, 2005

Sunset Park is home to Brooklyn’s rapidly growing (and largely invisible to the rest of us) Mexican community. About 30 blocks along Fifth Avenue, once home to a Scandinavian colony, seem to have been transplated directly from south of the border.

Spanish music spills out of shops and car windows, travel agencies advertise special fares to Chihuahua, Mexico City and Guadalajara, campaign posters for candidates named Ferrar and Gonsalez are tacked to the lamp posts, and the awning of nearly every shop is a riot of red, white and green (the colors of the Mexican flag).

There seems to be as much business conducted at curbside as there is inside the shops. Stroll along the street past the taquerias (taco shops) and panderias (bakeries), try on a sombrero and a pair of hurraches, buy a steaming tamale fresh from a cart, sip some homemade horchata and a flip through a stack of Thalia CDs. You’ll never think that you are in the US.

While I was taking photos, a well-meaning man approached, asking what I was going to do with the pictures. He then warned me to avoid photographing the adults who crowded the streets. “They wouldn’t like it,” he explained. “They might think you are … how do you say it? With the border patrol.”

Me? La migra? Hardly. But I know good advice when I hear it and after receiving the warning I stuck to simply taking pictures of the kids in the sunny streets of Sunset Park.

Mexican wedding cakes Posted by Picasa

Street corner Posted by Picasa

Sombreros and hurraches for sale Posted by Picasa

Mural for Hector Pinero Jr. Posted by Picasa

Selling horchata, tamarindo, watermelon juice Posted by Picasa

Boy with Silly String Posted by Picasa

Beauty shop doorway Posted by Picasa

Inside Sunset Park bakery Posted by Picasa

  • NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development
  • Sunset Park 1939
  • Thalia

  • Greenmarket Morning

    July 23, 2005

    The Greenmarkets are a city-sponsored program designed to help regional farmers stay in business and give city residents access to fresh produce. The program started in 1976 and today nearly 50 Greenmarkets are located throughout the city on selected days during the growing season. The rules say that “all items must be grown, raised, foraged, caught, or otherwise produced by the seller.”

    For many New Yorkers, the Greenmarkets are our only opportunity to interact with farmers, so every shopping trip becomes an education — for both buyer and seller. Many Greenmarket farmers have learned that we are happy to try new and exotic items, so, as the seasons change, the tables often feature products rarely (if ever) sold in most supermarkets: tiny lavender and white striped eggplant, cucumbers the size and color of ripe lemons, stalks of ivory-white rhubarb, baby golden-hued beets, pale green fiddlehead ferns, shiny, chocolate-brown peppers, deep blue fingerling potatoes, knishes stuffed with black beans and corn, ginger-flavored lumps of maple sugar, goat cheese studded with caraway seeds, red, yellow and orange nasturtium flowers and Japanese turnips sweet enough to be eaten raw like apples.

    On summer Saturdays a Greenmarket operates on the plaza in front of Brooklyn Borough Hall and the Federal Courthouse. A bustling, green oasis in the middle of one of Brooklyn’s busiest areas, it is a movable community — a place where, once a week, the hustle and noise of the city seem to fade while people gather to snack on a fresh-baked cookie, search for the perfect centerpiece, exchange cooking hints, flirt and gossip.

    This is a perfect, clear Saturday and season’s gorgeous, delicious bounty is filling the plaza. Sweet corn on the cob, crispy green peppers, tree-ripened peaches, fragrant raspberries, gigantic, bulbous leeks, carefully-packaged green and yellow squash blossoms and delicate, curling tendrils of garlic shoots are displayed next to stands filled with fresh baked goods, herbs and flowers, fish, meat, poultry, honey, eggs and cheese.

    The turkey farmer was sizzling samples of his homemade sausage on a grill. At a bakery stand, a tray of broken cookies was available for sampling. A farmer who specializes in fruit spread her homemade jam on crackers and artfully arranged them on a paper plate while a girl nearby set out slices of ripe, juicy peaches. It was impossible not to taste and buy, taste and buy, taste and buy.

    Banner hung on subway station entrance Posted by Picasa

    Flowers Posted by Picasa

    Sunflowers for sale Posted by Picasa

    Sidewalk sign Posted by Picasa

    Zucchini and basil Posted by Picasa

    Flower stand Posted by Picasa

    Bakery stand Posted by Picasa

    Peppers and eggplants Posted by Picasa

    Fresh corn for sale Posted by Picasa

    Sampling raspberries Posted by Picasa

  • Greenmarket Farmers Market
  • Cornell University Community, Food, and Agriculture Program
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency

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