Sunset Park Will Get a Chinese Archway

A rendering of the Sunset Park Friendship Archway (Image via World Journal)

After 10 years of discussions and planning, New York’s first-ever Chinese-style archway will soon be erected on Eighth Avenue in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a press conference on Oct. 27 that the city has decided to allocate funding to the Department of Transportation (DOT) for the installation of the archway, which will span Eighth Avenue between 60th and 61st streets. The mayor said the construction of the nine-roof archway with an inscription reading “One Family over Four Seas” is the “realization of an American dream.” He also thanked the Chinese community for its contributions to New York City.    

Mayor de Blasio said that the city has a large Asian population. And the area along Eighth Avenue in Sunset Park is a newly formed and fast-growing Chinese community, after Manhattan’s Chinatown and Flushing in Queens. An archway will help Eighth Avenue become a landmark in the city.   

Mayor Bill de Blasio (center) at the press conference on the Sunset Park archway. Behind him is local Council member Carlos Menchaca (left) and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (right). (Photo by Jiaying Yan via World Journal)

The archway is a gift from Chaoyang District in Beijing, and the second gift from a foreign government received by the city after the Statue of Liberty, which was a gift from France. De Blasio called the archway a friendship bridge between New York and Beijing. 

The city’s Public Design Commission approved the construction of the archway in July. When the structure is shipped to the city from Beijing by air, the DOT will conduct a pedestrian and vehicular traffic safety study for Eighth Avenue between 39th and 65th streets to make sure the archway won’t affect the safety of pedestrians and drivers. DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said a foundation will be built for the archway, and some street lights and utility poles will be relocated. She said the agency will guarantee a smooth and safe construction which will eventually make Eighth Avenue a new sightseeing attraction.  

The arrival of the archway is finally realized after 10 years of persistent efforts on the part of former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and current Borough President Eric Adams. Markowitz said there were concerns over traffic safety and maintenance during the talks. People who were advocating for the archway had to discuss the detailed solutions in endless meetings. And finally “we get our archway” after a decade. 

This is a sharp contrast with Manhattan’s Chinatown, which has been asking the city for an archway for 40 years and still has made no progress. Jerry Shiao, president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, said Chinatown residents have been hoping that an archway can be built on the triangular island formed by Canal Street, Baxter Street and Walker Street. But the city still hasn’t approved it.

Instead, the Chinatown Partnership and the DOT worked together recently to launch a Request for Proposals (RFP) to solicit designs worldwide for a gateway to Chinatown. The project, called “Gateways to Chinatown,” aims to turn the information kiosk in Chinatown into a neighborhood landmark. 

Wellington Chen, executive director of the Chinatown Partnership, said the cost of building an archway is high. Chinatown doesn’t have enough funds. But via the RFP, Chinatown can get more innovative as well as feasible designs for a landmark gateway. The best designs will eventually be incorporated into the construction of a gateway for Chinatown pivoting around the information kiosk.     

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