A gated community in Brooklyn? A Brooklyn neighborhood without a corner store?? A neighborhood with its own police department?? It’s hard to fathom that such a place can exist in one of the hottest housing markets in the country! When we think of gated communities we think of a glamorous, peaceful suburb with neat rows of tract housing. One would think that real estate developers would devour any piece of land in a county where a studio apartment rents for at least $1300 per month!
Nevertheless, Sea Gate is actually a gated community located on the southwestern end of the Coney Island peninsula. In fact, it is the oldest such community in New York state! Many homes in Sea Gate have beaches for their backyards! On a normal day several harbor seals and seagulls can be seen frolicking just mere yards from people!
This predominantly Russian and Orthodox Jewish neighborhood consists of roughly 800 single family homes and has no corner stores/bodegas. A Brooklyn neighborhood without a bodega? Simply unbelievable! The majority of the residents rent their homes. The homeowners pay fees to the Sea Gate association in addition to their city and state taxes. These fees go towards paying for the Sea Gate Police Department, sewer, beaches, sanitation, and street lights. It is reported that each homeowner must pay 13% of the value of his home to the association annually.
The entrance to Sea Gate is located at the corner of Surf Avenue and West 37th street. The entire community is surrounded by beaches and by a tall metal fence which separates it from the rest of Coney Island. The 5000 residents (and their guests) who live in Sea Gate are the only ones who are allowed into the community. Sea Gate police officers ensures this by checking the ids of anyone attempting to enter the area. Only cars which have the distinctive ‘Sea Gate’ bumper stickers are allowed entry.
Sea Gate is also home to the famous Norton Point – Coney Island Lighthouse. It was constructed in 1890 and has been in operation ever since!
Sea Gate’s exclusive nature gives us an insight into what life in Brooklyn was like in the early 20th century. That is, what life in Brooklyn was before our borough became a real estate hot spot. However, such exclusiveness has given rise to several controversies. Many believe that people should be allowed to enter Sea Gate at will since the community is not private property. Sea Gate residents assert that the reason the community remains exclusive is to prevent crime and other negative elements from encroaching upon their way of life. Regardless of your position on this argument, it is clear that Sea Gate represents a culture which many Brooklynites never knew existed!