One of New York City’s most exhilarating assets is its remarkable ability to transport people to new worlds for the price of a subway ride. The last stop on the Brooklyn bound B train, Brighton Beach is famous for its tight-knit, Russian-speaking community.
As soon as you set foot on Brighton Beach Avenue, you’ll notice that few, if any, of the dynamic conversations at the perogi stands and on the sidewalks are in English. Walking down the streets of Bright, one may feel like it is almost as if Russia has been cut out, minimized and pasted right into the map of Brooklyn.
Really, it is a melting pot of American and Russian cultures. The community is as much a way of life as it is a physical location: wedged between two worlds, with its own culture, dialect, radio hosts, TV channels, and newspapers. In fact, it is an immigrants version of a Russia intertwined with and shaped by American ideals. And strangely enough, it even looks exotic to the ethnicity it enclaves.
The lavish restaurant tradition became popular as soon as Brighton Beach was taken over by the mob of Russian immigrants coming to New York in the late 19th century. It is where the constantly dueling ocean-view restaurants, Volna and Tatiana, are still appealing customers of all sorts. The trend spread to other Russian areas in Brooklyn like Sheepshead Bay, which became the home of the iconic Rasputin, home of the Russian mob. The restaurant has traded hands and been given a new name, but still remains a memory to many in the Russian community.