Sunnyside is a working and middle class neighborhood in the Western portion of the New York City borough of Queens.
The area was first development in the United States patterned after the ideas of the garden city movement initiated in England in the first decades of the twentieth century by Ebenezer Howard and Raymond Unwin, specificallyHampstead Garden Suburb and Letchworth Garden City. Covering 77 acres between Queens Boulevard and theSunnyside Railroad Yards, Sunnyside Gardens was constructed between 1924 and 1928 by the City Housing Corporation, founded by developer Alexander Bing, and architects Clarence Stein and Henry Wright. The project grew out of discussions in the early 1920s about housing and planning; Lewis Mumford was a leading participant.In the early years of the Great Depression, nearly 60 percent of the residents lost their homes to foreclosure.Those difficult years saw organized resistance by residents who forcefully resisted efforts by city marshals to evict families. The character of Sunnyside Gardens was protected by 40-year easements which protected the integrity of the courtyards and common walkways and controlled changes to the exterior of every property, extending to even paint color. Those covenants lapsed in the mid-1960s, and some homeowners rushed to claim their property, erecting fences into the middle of some courtyards. In response, in 1974 the Department of City Planning designated Sunnyside Gardens a special planned community preservation district, together with Fresh Meadows,Parkchester, and the Harlem River Houses. With that designation came rules protecting the inner courts and landscaping, and prohibiting driveways and curbcuts, rear sheds, and additions.