Today, my love and I went to Brighton Beach to explore and take pictures just for you lovelies! Also called “Little Odessa” for the Ukranian city from which many of its residents hail, Brighton Beach is a primarily Russian neighborhood in Brooklyn located on the Atlantic right next to Coney Island. I spent a few months living there thanks to a very kind friend who took me in when I was residentially challenged in 1986. We lived in a 5th floor walk-up with 6 cats: 5 were my roommate’s, 1 was mine. (Upon learning this statistic, a date once pointed out that this was too much pussy for three rooms. Nonetheless, we managed to have fun.)
Though I haven’t been back much since then, I have never forgotten the neighborhood, which really hasn’t changed much since 1986. Nearly all the shop signs are still in Cyrillic, conversations on the streets and in the shops continue to be conducted almost entirely in Russian; the only real difference is that the price tags (for everything except caviar, which is shockingly cheap) are now staggering. I assume if you speak Russian like a native, the prices go down by 75%. Either that, or this is now the most expensive neighborhood in New York.
Aside from the prices, what still strikes you about this neighborhood is the otherness of the culture. Shop windows, in particular, seemed very strange and haphazard. Not at all like most of New York. I was also completely fascinated by the purity of the Russian faces we saw. I have always found Russian features to be very distinctive, and we saw a lot of people today who I think I could have identified as Russian no matter where they were. Today was some great people watching, though I still can’t get up the nerve to ask to take people’s pictures, so I missed photographing the faces I most wanted to capture. I’ll work on that for next time.
If you want to read more about the neighborhood, NYCGO does a good job of describing it. Now, without further ado, here come the visuals!