Sunnysider preserves neighborhood history through photo collection
By Bill Parry
Luke Adams, who has lived in Sunnyside for 40 years, has spent decades putting together a comprehensive photo collection that showcases the history of the neighborhood.
Adams is a longtime member of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce and maintains “The Good Old Days” section of the chamber website (sunnysidechamber.org). He has gathered hundreds of photos that go back to the mid 1800s.
Adams began collecting photos when he was the president of the chamber in 1981. He reached out to residents who held historic photos and let them knew about his collection. Many people donated them to him.
“I always wanted the new people to appreciate Sunnyside and its history,” Adams said, who ran a travel agency on 43rd Street for many years. Once he obtained photos he would conduct research to put them in their historical context.
“I would research the photos at the Sutphin Blvd. library,” he said, and would create informative captions.
Adams stores boxes of his photos in an office at LaGuardia Community College. “We hope one day to have a museum where they can all be displayed,” said Adams.
However, they are available for viewing online. In the late 90’s, Adams moved the archive to the Chamber website that has been maintained with the help of Sunnyside residents June Madina and Pat Dorfman.
Adams said his favorite photo is of the Sunnyside Hotel circa 1869, donated by local historian, Jeffrey Kroessler.
However, there is one photo that has eluded Adams all these years. He wants a photo of Mayor Jimmy Walker—when he opened Sunnyside Gardens Park on May 18, 1926.
“If I found that I’d be a happy man. That’s my Holy Grail.”