Brighton Beach

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For other uses, see Brighton Beach (disambiguation).
Brighton Beach is located in New York City
Brighton Beach
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New York City map with Brighton Beach marked.

Brighton Beach is an oceanside neighborhood in the southern portion of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. As of 2007, it has a population of 75,692 with a total of 31,228 households.[1] It is known for its high population of Russian-speaking immigrants[2] 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 neighborhood served as the setting for the 1983 Neil Simon play Brighton Beach Memoirs, a coming of age story about a family living there during the Great Depression.[3] More recently, it has been used as a setting for New York television shows such as Law & Order, Blue Bloods, and Person of Interest. In August 2011, a reality TV series, Russian Dolls, followed the lives of eight women living in the community.[4]

Location[edit]

1873 map of Brighton Beach
West Brighton, Brooklyn, c. 1872 – c. 1887
Downtown section of Brighton Beach, looking east along Brighton Beach Avenue from the corner of Coney Island Avenue, near the Brighton Beach subway station
A Russian-language bookstore under the New York City Subway tracks on Coney Island Avenue in Brighton Beach
Recently built luxury condos on Brighton Beach
Juxtaposition of apartments and private homes
Brighton 15th Street
Backgammon players at Second Street Park in 2013

Brighton Beach is bounded by Coney Island 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 (at the Riegelmann Boardwalk/beachfront).[5] It is patrolled by the NYPD's 60th Precinct.[6]

History[edit]

Until the late 1860s, Brighton Beach consisted of little but farms carved out of sandy hills. It was known as the "Middle Division", a section of Gravesend, the only English town of the original six in Kings County. By the mid-1700s, the Middle Division had been broken up into 39 lots, the owners being descendants of the original European colonizers.[7]

William A. Engeman developed the area as a resort in 1868; it was named by Henry C. Murphy and a group of businessmen in an 1878 contest[5] to evoke the resort of Brighton, England. Working with — or, in some eyes, conspiring with — Gravesend’s surveyor, William Stillwell, Engeman acquired all 39 lots for the bargain price of $20,000.[7]

The centerpiece of the resort was the large Hotel Brighton (or Brighton Beach Hotel), placed on the beach at what is now the foot of Coney Island Avenue and accessed by the Brooklyn, Flatbush, and Coney Island Railway, which opened on July 2, 1878. After a series of winter storms threatened to swamp the hotel, an audacious plan was developed to move it in one piece 520 feet further inland by placing railroad track and 112 railroad flat cars under the raised 460 by 130 feet (140 m × 40 m) building and using six steam locomotives to pull it away from the sea. Engineered by B.C. Miller, the move was begun on April 2, 1888 and continued for the next nine days, being the largest building move of the 19th century.[8]

Adjacent to the hotel, Engeman built the Brighton Beach Race Course for Thoroughbred horse racing. In December 1887, an extremely high tide washed over the area, creating a new, temporary connection between Sheepshead Bay and the ocean. Wrote the "Brooklyn 'Daily Eagle": "Unless [Engeman] is very lucky the next races on the Brighton Beach track will be conducted by the white crested horses of Neptune."[9]

Anton Seidl and the Metropolitan Opera brought their popular interpretations of Wagner to the Brighton Beach Music Hall, where John Philip Sousa was in residence. The New Brighton Theater was a hotspot for vaudeville. Visitors for tea at Reisenweber’s Brighton Beach Casino would be served by Japanese waitresses in full costume. And the Brighton Beach Baths was an enormous private club where members could swim, access a private beach, and play handball, mah-jongg, and cards.[7]

The village was annexed into the 31st Ward of the City of Brooklyn in 1894.

In 1905, Brighton Beach Park opened its own area of amusements, calling it Brighton Pike. Brighton Pike offered a boardwalk, games, live entertainment (including the Miller Brothers’ wild-west show, 101 Ranch), and a huge steel roller coaster. It burned down in 1919.[7]

Brighton Beach was re-developed as a fairly dense residential community with the final rebuilding of the Brighton Beach railway into a modern rapid transit line, known as the BMT Brighton Line (B Q services) of the New York City Subway c. 1920. The subway system in the neighborhood is above ground on an elevated structure. The opening of the BMT Brighton Line had conflicting consequences: although it made Brighton Beach viable as a year-round community, it was now much more feasible for visitors to return home in the evening rather than spend the night. This led to the closure of the Brighton Beach Hotel in 1924.[7]

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, concentration camp survivors.[10] Of the estimated 55,000 Holocaust survivors living in New York City as of 2011, most live in Brighton Beach.[11] To meet the bursting cultural demands, the New Brighton Theater converted itself to the States’ first Yiddish theater in 1919.[7]

Culture[edit]

Crowded Brighton Beach on a summer afternoon
Water sports on Brighton Beach

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 the neighborhood is directly served by a subway station makes it a popular summer weekend destination for New York City residents.

Russian-speaking cultures[edit]

Brighton Beach's original Russian-speaking population arrived in the 40s and 50s and were primarily Jews from Odessa, Ukraine. During this time, Brighton Beach came to be known as Little Odessa.[12] An annual festival, the Brighton Jubilee, celebrates the area's Russian-speaking heritage.[7] In 2006, Alec Brook-Krasny was elected for the 46th District of the New York State Assembly, the first elected Soviet-born Jewish politician from Brighton Beach.

After the fall of the Soviet-Union in the 90s, the neighborhood's ethnic demographics changed. With a large influx of ethnic Russians from all the ex-Soviet Republics, as well as many Uzbeks and other Russian-speaking immigrants from the ex-Soviet Union,[13] the area started being known as Little Russia, as it is known today.[14]

Demographics[edit]

As of 1983, Brighton Beach had a middle class, mostly Jewish, older population. 68.5% of Brighton Beach was non-Hispanic White. 17.3% was non-Hispanic black. 11.7% were Hispanic. 27% of Brighton Beach was of age 62 or older, while the national average of persons aged 62 or older was 13.9%.[3]

As of 2010 increasing numbers of Central Asians were moving into Brighton Beach. Due to Soviet influence, they also speak Russian.[15]

Transportation[edit]

The BMT Brighton Line (B Q trains) has two stations, Brighton Beach and Ocean Parkway, serving the neighborhood. Both are located on an elevated structure over Brighton Beach Avenue. Buses serving in and around Brighton Beach include the B1, B36, B49, and B68.

Education[edit]

Primary and secondary schools[edit]

Brighton Beach is served by the New York City Department of Education. Primary and middle schools within Brighton Beach include PS 225 The Eileen E. Zaglin School for grades K-8,[16] and the P.S. 253 Ezra Jack Keats International School.[17]

Schools near Brighton Beach within Coney Island are PS 100 The Coney Island School for grades K-5[18][19][20] and Intermediate School 303 Herbert S. Eisenberg.[20][21][22]

William E. Grady Vocational High School, a vocational high school, is located in Brighton Beach.[23] Abraham Lincoln High School, an academic high school, is in Coney Island.[20][24] In 1983 Lincoln was the zoned academic high school of Brighton Beach.[3]

Nearby high schools include:

In 1983, the Community School District 21 operated PS 225, PS 253, and Junior High School 302. During that year, over 62% of its students read at or above their grade level, far above the national average.[3]

Public libraries[edit]

Brooklyn Public Library operates the Brighton Beach Library.[25]

Crime[edit]

Brighton Beach is considered a hot spot for the "Russian Mafia,"[26] though public perception has been that organized crime "has largely gone away."[27] In the 1970s, the most notorious leg of the mafia was the Potato Bag Gang,[28] which served as a robbery gang for larger Russian crime syndicates in New York City. Marat Balagula was a crime boss from Brighton Beach who denies having any connection to the American Mafia or the Russian-speaking Mafia.

The first major Russian criminal element in Brighton Beach was the international Russian mafia group, known as Vor v zakone or "Vory". The first Vory crime boss in Brighton Beach was Evsei Agron, who controlled the area's crime during the 70s and 80s until his death in 1985. After the fall of the Soviet Union in the 90s, many ethnic Russian criminals illegally entered the United States, coming especially to Brighton Beach. During this wave arrived the infamous Vory Vyacheslav Ivankov, who dominated the Brighton Beach underworld until his arrest in 1995.[29]

In popular culture[edit]

Appearances[edit]

Mentions[edit]

Brighton Beach is also mentioned:

Notable residents[edit]

Notable current and former residents of Brighton Beach include:

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ http://homes.point2.com/Neighborhood/US/New-York/New-York-City/Brooklyn/Brighton-Beach-Demographics.aspx
  2. ^ http://nymag.com/guides/everything/brighton-beach
  3. ^ a b c d Dolan, Dolores. "IF YOU'RE THINKING OF LIVING IN: BRIGHTON BEACH." The New York Times. June 19, 1983. Retrieved on October 15, 2012.
  4. ^ "About Russian Dolls". 
  5. ^ a b Jackson, Kenneth T.: The Encyclopedia of New York City: The New York Historical Society; Yale University Press; 1995. pp. 139-140.
  6. ^ 60th Precinct, NYPD
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Williams, Keith. "Brighton Beach: Old World mentality, New World reality". The Weekly Nabe. Retrieved 29 July 2012. 
  8. ^ The New York Times, April 4, 1888
  9. ^ "High Tides". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 7 December 1887. Retrieved 29 July 2012. 
  10. ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=MR4iVnvulMQC&pg=PA127&lpg=PA127&dq=concentration+camp+survivors+brighton+beach&source=bl&ots=dyckTEgSSf&sig=yJe6s34fjaAkpr4Wy6HPrC40ZfY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1PMmT5vLBMj50gHayvWuCA&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=concentration%20camp%20survivors%20brighton%20beach&f=false
  11. ^ "The Plot to Cheat Germany's Holocaust Survivors' Fund". Time. November 13, 2010. 
  12. ^ Johnstone, Sarah: Ukraine, Lonely Planet, 2005. P.119.
  13. ^ Changing Face of Brighton Beach By Michael Larson, Bingling Liao, Ariel Stulberg and Anna Kordunsky, published September 17, 2012]
  14. ^ http://bidbrightonbeach.com/about-2/
  15. ^ Larson, Michael, Bingling Liao, Ariel Stulberg and Anna Kordunsky. "Changing Face of Brighton Beach Central Asians Join Russian Jews in Brooklyn Neighborhood." The Jewish Daily Forward. September 17, 2012. Retrieved on October 15, 2012.
  16. ^ Rich, Motoko. "In Web Age, Library Job Gets Update." The New York Times. February 15, 2009. Retrieved on October 15, 2012.
  17. ^ "100TH DISTRICT." The Poughkeepsie Journal. October 24, 2004. A9. Retrieved on October 15, 2012. "As a PTA mom at PS 253, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, […]"
  18. ^ Fertig, Beth. "Test Driving a Pilot Teacher Evaluation System." SchoolBook. The New York Times. March 14, 2012. Retrieved on October 15, 2012. "Ms. Moloney has been testing a new framework for evaluating teachers this year at the school, which is actually in Brighton Beach,"
  19. ^ "Home." PS 100 The Coney Island School. Retrieved on October 17, 2012. "2951 WEST 3 STREET, BROOKLYN, NY 11224"
  20. ^ a b c Scharfenberg, David. "Safety Belts On? Renewal Has Its Hazards." The New York Times. November 19, 2006. "Coney Island, which has a residential population of about 53,000, is bounded by the Belt Parkway to the north, Ocean Parkway to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the south." - Map, Archive
  21. ^ Hughes, C. J. "Waterfront Living That Doesn’t Break the Bank." The New York Times. April 30, 2010. p.2. Retrieved on October 15, 2012.
  22. ^ "Home." I.S. 303 Herbert S. Eisenberg. Retrieved on October 17, 2012. "501 WEST AVENUE, BROOKLYN, NY 11224"
  23. ^ "Student, 17, Is Shot in Brighton Beach." The New York Times. June 6, 2012. Retrieved on October 11, 2012.
  24. ^ "Home." Abraham Lincoln High School. Retrieved on October 17, 2012. "2800 OCEAN PARKWAY, BROOKLYN, NY 11235"
  25. ^ "Brighton Beach Library." Brooklyn Public Library. Retrieved on October 15, 2012. "Brighton Beach Library 16 Brighton First Rd. at Brighton Beach Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11235"
  26. ^ Raab, Selwyn (August 23, 1994). "Influx of Russian Gangsters Troubles F.B.I. in Brooklyn". The New York Times. 
  27. ^ "Undercover Look Inside The Russian Mob". CBS News. 
  28. ^ Orleck, Annelise; Elizabeth Cooke (1999). The Soviet Jewish Americans. Greenwood Publishing. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-313-30074-5. Retrieved 2008-09-13. 
  29. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/1995/06/09/nyregion/reputed-russian-crime-chief-arrested.html
  30. ^ Berger, Joseph. "Vintage Pop Star With the Soul of a Bar Mitzvah Boy", The New York Times, May 24, 2004. Accessed September 23, 2009. "Several years before enrolling in Juilliard, he had been introduced to a neighbor with a touch of the poet, Howard Greenfield, and they became a songwriting team for the next 20 years."
  31. ^ Kensington Books
  32. ^ Broadway World
  33. ^ Dettelbach, Cynthia. "From angst-ridden teenager to world-class music star", Cleveland Jewish News, July 30, 2004. Accessed September 23, 2009. "That includes instant face and name recognition, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a place in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and even a street named after him in his native Brighton Beach, Brooklyn."
  34. ^ Vocal Group Hall of Fame

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°34′39″N 73°57′42″W / 40.577598°N 73.961565°W / 40.577598; -73.961565