November 2, 2012, Friday, 306


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Link to Research Page

Sunset Park

About Me

Hi. My name is Jamila Toaha. I am currently a Freshman enrolled in Brooklyn College (Macaulay Honors College Class of 2012). I plan to double-major in Political Science and in some sort of physical science, although my mind is subject to change. I am the researcher of this page. I decided to do this project on Sunset Park, because I had always lived so close to the park, and just wanted to unravel the secrets that it holds. And, behold, it holds many.

How I went about Research

The first place I went about searching was the Brooklyn College Library. I found books that only made passing references to the park.

Then I searched for Sunset Park History in the Borough Park Brooklyn Public Library. I found some books, but it was not enough. I asked a librarian for help. He referred me to some helpful websites, and I was then directed to the Sunset Park Brooklyn Public Library Branch. Expecting to find a wealth of information, I did not. I was surprised the library did not keep a historical record of their own park. But I did find more books that made passing references to the park.

The Brooklyn Public Library website has been a wonderful resource. I have scoured through the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, a historical newspaper of Brooklyn, and through historical pictures. This is what gave me a very feel of what the park was like. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle explores the creation of the parks and explores what the park has been used for during earlier eras.

I have done research at the Grand Army Plaza library a couple of times. The first time I was only able to get books that again had very small sections on Sunset Park. The second time, I went there I was finally able to make it to the Brooklyn Collections section. I found a wealth of information, ranging from an incident of tree-cutting vandalism to disputes between churches over the area. But I felt that this was not enough.

I decided to take it to Sunset Park, itself. It was crowded, but as beautiful as ever. I decided to enter the Sunset Park Recreation Center, which I never had entered before, despite all the years I spent as a kid in the Park. Upon entrance, we enter into a beautiful opening, very similar to being under a dome. If we look to our left and right we see entrances labled "Men" and "Women." During the most of the year this is irrelevant, since the pool is only utilized in the summer. But it gives us a sense of the historical past of the park. We also see several murals, some drawn by children, posted onto the cylindrical walls. I ended up interviewing its current manager, Karen Gripper. She said the Recreation Center was recently deemed a historical site, so as a result no new renovation could be done to the site. She gave me the immigrant aspect of the park, calling it the "new immigrant pool." She, then, directed me to the Parks Library, which is part of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. I found a wealth of information there, as well. From the people who donated the land that would become Sunset Park, to Annual Report indices, which have information about renovation or reconstruction projects various New York City Parks have undergone. The Department of Parks and Recreation website has also been very helpful.

The snapshots on my Sunset Park page were captured by me, unless otherwise stated.

Though it has been difficult to find history, I have managed to amass a wealth of information.

The biggest challenge, aside from the time that it takes to amass information, was being able to integrate my sources and tell a story.

Invaluable Resources in my Journey

Of course, I would like to thank our professor, Jocelyn Wills, because this is a journey I would have most probably never have taken. Her constant pushing and encouragement has helped me get a lot done . I feel less stymied, than in my other classes, because in this class we are actually encouraged to step over racial and social lines and explore them. Not that my other classes are against such things, but, rather, they are indifferent to such issues.

In all events, I had no choice but to confront a librarian. So I would I like to thank all the librarians and archivists that helped me go about my research.

The tools Macaulay Honors College has provided for me has been very helpful. In many cases, I used my Flipvideo camera, either when I wanted to capture scenic views, conduct an interviews, or record information that I could not write down at some moment. As a result, I have hours of footage. The Mac notebook, with its incredible memory capacity (I believe up to about 90 Gigabytes), was able to store it all, without it causing me a panic for space. The Mac has been indispensable because of its lack of bulkiness. I would sit places typing for hours with it.

I nearly forgot, but I would, also, like to thank my fellow classmates! I have borrowed code from many of your pages. Perhaps, the term "stolen" would fit better, but, nonetheless, I could not have done this Wiki without you.

Irrelevant Extra Stuff

This is an inspiring video, possibly, totally, unrelated. Making a difference one village at a time.