'The handsomest suburb in Greater New York'. This was how the area's developer Walter L. Johnson promoted Dyker Heights in the late 1800s and due to the wonderful panorama offered from here across the Atlantic Ocean and 'The Narrows' (the stretch of water separating Staten Island and Brooklyn) many would agree with him. The strict regulations imposed on home building when the area was developed ensured a selection of large, original and luxurious homes although many of these have now been replaced with Mediterranean style villas and apartments.
A fine example of the original Dyker Heights homes can be found in the Saitta House on 84th Street which is actually listed on both the State and National Register of Historic Places and belonged to Beatrice and Simone Saitta. These homeowners were born in Italy and the 1910 census shows that Simone was a Manhattan wholesale fruit dealer.
There were only a small number of Italian homeowners in the Dyker Heights development originally, however this soon changed and by 1940 the majority of residents were of Italian origin. Many of these residents helped to establish the Roman Catholic Shrine Church of Saint Bernadette which can be found on 13th Avenue between 82nd and 83rd Streets. The 2000 census showed that at 69 percent the majority of the Dyker Heights is still Italian American and they are now famous for the Christmas lights which are on display each year. This tradition has even had a television documentary made about it called 'Dyker Lights' and families come back time and again to see the beautiful houses adorned with all manner of sparkling lights and decorations.