Brighton Beach in New York City

January 8th, 2018 | Destination: | Rubric: General, New York City |

© Daniel Schwen/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Daniel Schwen/cc-by-sa-4.0

Brighton Beach is an oceanside neighborhood in the southern portion of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, along the Coney Island peninsula, connected via Coney Island Avenue. The Brighton Beach and Coney Island area, combined, has more than 150,000 residents. Brighton Beach is bounded by Coney Island proper at Ocean Parkway to the west, Manhattan Beach at Corbin Place to the east, Sheepshead Bay at the Belt Parkway to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south along the beach and boardwalk. It is known for its high population of Russian-speaking immigrants, and as a summer destination for New York City residents due to its beaches along the Atlantic Ocean and its proximity to the amusement parks in Coney Island. The proximity of Brighton Beach to the city’s beaches—Brighton Beach Avenue runs parallel to the Coney Island beach and boardwalk—and the fact that the neighborhood is directly served by a subway station makes it a popular summer weekend destination for New York City residents.

As apartment buildings started to be built in large numbers in the 1930s, many of those who moved into the neighborhood were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, often by way of the Lower East Side. They came from many countries, but also set the stage for a later wave of immigration from the Soviet Union that started in the 1970s, when Brighton Beach became known as “Little Odessa” (after the Ukrainian city on the Black Sea) and “Little Russia”. An annual festival, the Brighton Jubilee, celebrates the area’s Russian-speaking heritage. The area has also been called “the land of pelmeni, matryoshkas, tracksuits, and…vodka” due to its large population of Soviet immigrants. In 2006, Alec Brook-Krasny was elected for the 46th District of the New York State Assembly, which includes Brighton Beach, becoming the country’s first elected Soviet-born politician. The Brighton Ballet Theater, established in 1987, is one of the most famous Russian ballet schools in the United States. More than 3,000 children have trained in ballet, modern and character dances, and folk dances here. A Russian-speaking theater near the waterfront, Master Theater, features performances by actors from the U.S., Russia, and other countries.

Russian stores © Multiplicitous/cc-by-sa-3.0 Riegelmann Boardwalk © Multiplicitous/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Daniel Schwen/cc-by-sa-4.0 Boardwalk © Multiplicitous/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Multiplicitous/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Multiplicitous/cc-by-sa-3.0 Brighton Beach Avenue © Billy Hathorn/cc-by-sa-3.0
Riegelmann Boardwalk © Multiplicitous/cc-by-sa-3.0
The years just before and following the Great Depression brought with them a neighborhood consisting mostly of first- and second-generation Jewish Americans and, later, Holocaust concentration camp survivors. Of the estimated 55,000 Holocaust survivors living in New York City as of 2011, most live in Brighton Beach. To meet the bursting cultural demands, the New Brighton Theater converted itself to the States’ first Yiddish theater in 1919. After World War II, the quality of life in Brighton Beach decreased significantly as the poverty rate and the ratio of older residents to younger residents increased. Due to the 1970s fiscal crisis, government workers and the middle class had moved to suburban areas, while people subdivided houses into single room occupancy residences for the poor, the elderly, and the mentally ill. Brighton Beach suffered from arson as much as it did from constant drug trades. During the summer, however, people from all around the city went to Brighton Beach’s beach next to the Atlantic Ocean.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent significant changes in the social and economic circumstances of post-Soviet states led thousands of former Soviet citizens to immigrate to the United States. Many of the Soviet immigrants (many of which were Ukrainian) of the late 1980s and the 1990s, who primarily spoke Russian, chose Brighton Beach as a place to settle. So many ex-Soviets immigrated to Brighton Beach that the area became known as “Little Odessa.” A large number of Russian-speaking, immigrant-oriented firms, shops, restaurants, clubs, offices, banks, schools, and children’s play centers opened in the area. The value of real estate in Brighton Beach started to rise again, even though drugs remained a social issue in the area through the early 1990s. In the early 2000s, a high-income ocean-front condominium complex, the Oceana, was constructed. This address has become the destination of wealthy businessmen, entertainers, and senior officials from the former Soviet Union, and with their purchase of units at the Oceana, area housing prices have risen. Since the early 2010s, a significant number of Central Asian immigrants have also chosen Brighton Beach as a place to settle.

Read more on Brighton Beach, – Brighton Beach, – Brighton Beach, Wikivoyage Brighton Beach and Wikipedia Brighton Beach. Photos by Wikimedia Commons.

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