Sunny’s Bar on Conover Street. Red Hook, Brooklyn. New York City.
There are streets and places that feel as if they have been taken out another time. They seem to exist independently of the world around them as fragments of history that have somehow made it into the present.
Sunny’s is a 120 year old saloon that is located in Red Hook, Brooklyn, a neighborhood of New York City that has quite a colorful history. The bar is named after Antonio “Sunny” Balzano who was born in 1934 in the deep red brick apartment right next to the bar. Growing up near the waterfront in Red Hook in the 1940s, he would play alongside ship cargo and after surviving violent street brawls in the 1950s and the crime of the 1980s, he became the owner of the bar that neighbored the apartment where his life unfolded through the years.
The bar was originally run by Sunny’s uncle where it revolved around the shipping industry. Longshoremen were the main clientele back then. When Sunny moved back home in the 1980s to take over the operations at the bar, the neighborhood was a shell of what it used to be. The shipping industry had moved its operations across the harbor to New Jersey and for quite a few years the streets remained quiet and Sunny operated the bar just to keep it open for a few neighborhood regulars.
Red Hook has since changed as it has been embraced by both developers, the arts community and families looking to settle down in a quiet part of Brooklyn. Sunny’s still exists though, a testament to Red Hook’s colorful history.
- History pieced together from “Sunny’s Wonderful Saloon” New York Times By Wendell Jameison, October 2002
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