September 01, 2002

Russian New York

New York is a city that periodically revives itself through immigrants, who alter and are in turn altered by the city’s amazing dynamic. In fact, the 2000 census shows that New York’s population is the highest ever recorded, due in no small part to the influx of Russians in the post-Soviet era. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Russian (or more precisely, Russian-speaking) community in New York City is the fastest growing ethnic group—second in size only to the Hispanic community. Like any other group, the Russian community in New York is spread among the city’s five boroughs, though there are certain definable locations that over the past 25 years have become distinctly “Russian neighborhoods.” 

These neighborhoods are far-flung: there is Washington Heights in northern Manhattan, home to a large portion of the Russian intelligentsia in New York; there are Bayside and Forest Hills in Queens and Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. And then there is Brighton Beach.

No other Russian neighborhood in New York City (perhaps the country) has the magnetic power or the sensuous appeal of Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach. A large part of its appeal is because it is really on the beach—from midtown Manhattan it’s an hour ride on the rumbling
Q Train—making it a neighborhood on one of the city’s geographic edges.

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