The glitz and poverty of Brighton Beach: how the legendary "Little Odessa" lives
Brighton Beach is perhaps the most famous Russian-speaking area in the United States. It is also called "Little Odessa". According to various estimates, today 50 to 70 thousand Russian-speaking people live here.
The ForumDaily journalist spent one day with the locals of Brighton Beach to find out how this small “Russian world” lives now.
Dozens of metro stations separate downtown New York and Brighton Beach. One hour - and you find yourself in an area where they speak either Russian or Ukrainian. And here you can often hear the symbiosis of English and Russian. The most popular words in everyday life have become “otchardzhit”, “nlaysit” or, for example, “four find nin”.
Everyone here knows each other, like in the village. It is worth living in Brighton for a couple of weeks - and they will begin to greet you as if they were their own. Russian hits are heard from the shops every now and then. Well, where else can you hear the words from the song of Lyubov Uspenskaya: "Today you shine on Brighton, and tomorrow, maybe you will go out on Broadway."
The first Russian-speaking wave of emigration brought Jews here in the 1970s. Then, in 1972, the Soviet Union allowed Jews to emigrate to Israel for "family reunification." The second wave came in the 90s. Many natives of Odessa appeared here. In those days, almost half a million people moved from Ukraine to Brighton Beach. This is evidenced by archival documentswhich are still kept at the Brooklyn Central Library. Odessans are accustomed to the sea, and therefore rushed to Brighton, where there is a direct access to the Atlantic Ocean and the promenade for walks.
The main thing is that the suit is sitting
One of the brightest representatives of the first wave of emigration is Yakov Lyubarov. He came to Brighton Beach in 1978 from Moscow. Since childhood, Lyubarov loved to dress beautifully, so he almost immediately became a star in Brighton. Suits from Gaultier or Versace, shoes from Dolce & Gabbana - there are many stylish things in the wardrobe of the "Moscow mischievous reveler".
Jacob came to New York with his wife and little daughter. They fled from the USSR from the communist system. Green cards received right at the airport.
“When we arrived here, there were almost no Russians here. Maybe just a few families from Israel and Russia. We had $ 300. The Nayana organization helped us, then I got a job in an American air conditioner repair company, ”Lyubarov says.
Life began to improve. Later, Jacob got a job in a taxi, then engaged in the jewelry business. Could move to Manhattan, but Brighton became a family. He still remembers how he received his long-awaited American passport and washed his citizenship like friends. They drank, of course, Russian vodka.
“I want to say that Brighton Beach flourished in the 80s and 90s. Then the intelligentsia arrived from Leningrad, Moscow. Of course, there were emigrants from Odessa as well. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, other people have already arrived. How can I put it? Not very good quality, ”he shares his opinion.
Jacob long ago received an American passport and retired. He says he lives well.
“My pension is small: $ 700. But I also rent out a taxi license. We have our own apartment in the cooperative. I never thought about returning to my homeland. I have lived most of my life in Brighton. If only on a visit to the capital, ”says Yakov with a smile.
Together with his wife, Jacob loves to travel. They usually go on a cruise in Europe. France and Italy are paradise for the fashionist Lyubarov. Jacob never returns without new clothes. And a resident of Brighton is very fond of "poisoning" jokes.
“One guy says to a girl:“ Did you give Petka for love or for money? ” And the girl says: “Well, of course, for love! Is 3 rubles money !? ”, - laughs Yakov.
At the end of our meeting, Yakov Lyubarov turned to tourists who come to New York and asked them not to forget to visit his favorite attraction called Brighton Beach.
And life, and tears, and love
Everything is Russian in Brighton: restaurants, pharmacies, shops. Not far from the Brighton Beach metro station, both in winter and in summer, you can see a native of Ukraine - Maria Chernenko. For five years now, in rain and snow, she has been selling groceries right on the street. Maria told ForumDaily about how she got to Brighton Beach.
Maria Chernenko won the green card and arrived in New York in 2011. In her native Ternopil, she left children and grandchildren. Every year she visits them and returns to Brighton Beach with tears in her eyes.
“I miss them a lot. I make money and send it there. This helps them a lot. My dream is to get an American passport faster so that the children have a choice. I don't know if they want to live here, ”says Maria.
For a long time she got used to the local mentality. Immunity has already been developed for dissatisfaction of Russian-speaking pensioners.
“There are different buyers, oh capricious. Everyone needs to show themselves. I'm used to it. At first I thought that I would go deaf, now the train is going again. But a person gets used to everything, ”says Chernenko about working conditions.
Salary is fine with Maria, but, of course, the woman does not hide that she would like to receive not 10 dollars per hour.
“Our store owner is normal. In winter, the heater gives me the street so that I do not freeze. You know how cold it is here. Horror. But nothing - we can handle it, ”she says.
At that moment, a man approached Mary. He left the store and asked her what she was talking about. The woman, as if accusing herself of something, tried to answer him quickly: they say everything is fine, go.
But the man turned out to be very stubborn and made his own statement.
“So, come on, from here. This is my woman. My love. What's stuck? ”, - with a formidable look he turned to the Forumdaily journalist.
So our conversation with Maria and ended. A second later, she was fond of selling chocolate bars, having only quickly waved her hand to us.
Boris is also a seller. True, the man sells not chocolates, but books from his own library. Russian classics, the man complains, absolutely now does not go.
“Don't ask me how are you? Poorly. There is no business. No money left. At least there is a roof over your head! ”, - he points to his head with his hand.
Books Boris sells already years 20. For him, this is the only income, the man complains. But as it turned out, Boris is clearly not ready for a heart-to-heart conversation.
"All. Let's. Enough about me. We will survive. Even so. I won't tell you the last name anyway. Guys, do not interfere with work, ”said Boris, burying his eyes in the book.
As the locals say, “Brighton is so different”. Indeed, one can see expensive SUVs and luxury sports cars here. Among the people, meet a man begging for alms, women in mink coats or girls in fashionable Italian brands and heels.
By the way, some ladies, without hesitating, can leave a beauty salon with a chemical waving and hair curlers on the head.
Inga Sokolnikova has been doing everything possible for 13 years to make the fair sex from Brighton Beach look more beautiful. She is a beautician. Together with her family, Inga arrived in the United States 13 years ago and immediately settled in the Russian region.
“I have a Soviet school in cosmetology, so my clients are mostly Russian-speaking. I got a license here and, of course, I can work with Americans. But I love ours more, they are dearer. Russians are always ready to help those, for example, who recently came to America, ”says Inga.
Kiev was not easy to start a new life from scratch. Now Inga has her own beauty salon. Sokolnikova says that clients, of course, are different.
“Somehow capricious and harmful clients are eliminated by themselves. I am a fan of my work and always treat everyone with understanding. But recently I was still able to offend. There was a woman in the salon, did all the procedures and paid with a credit card. There was $ 700. And two weeks later I received a letter from the bank that the amount did not go through, ”Inga wonders.
It turned out that the client decided to deceive Inga and blocked the credit card. Now the attorney helps to find the fraudster. Despite these unpleasant stories, Inga still loves Brighton Beach.
“My husband also works in Brighton. I never thought for a minute about leaving here. To another area or another state. I just love Brighton. What kind of people are there! It's a pleasure to look at and listen to them. And next to the beach. Beauty is the same ”, - Inga admires her place of residence.
Many of Inga's fellow countrymen also love Brighton. True, local chess players, for example, do not really want to communicate with journalists. As soon as the sun peeps out on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, they appear on the street - men from Odessa - lovers of board games.
“What are we going to tell you? We are joking here, playing, enjoying life. Everything is good with us. Everything is like in Odessa, ”one of the players said laughing.
Brighton Beach Property
Not only retirees live in the Brighton Beach area. Young people also settled in "Little Odessa". Most of them are young people who recently arrived in New York and started a new life. It is in Brighton that you can find the first illegal job and rent housing without documents. The cost of renting square meters, on average, will cost $ 1000- $ 1200 for a studio or one-room apartment.
Some young families not only rent properties in Brighton Beach, but also buy apartments here. This choice is primarily associated with the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean. According to realtor Sonia Ostrovskaya, Brighton is one of the best areas to buy an apartment in a condominium.
“This type of housing has its own characteristics, but, in any case, you become full of apartment owners. And there is one more plus - the opportunity to purchase a parking space, which you can use yourself, resell or lease, ”- says the realtor.
Among the buyers are clients from Russia and Ukraine. The demand, says Sonya, is different for everyone. But today, just in Brighton, you can buy both inexpensive and luxury real estate.
“Prices here, on average, range from $ 550 to $ 800. And expensive real estate can cost two million. For example, we are currently selling a three-room apartment in a condo for $ 1 million. The price includes a parking space. All this in the famous luxury complex Oceana Condominium & Club“, - Sonia Ostrovskaya shared with ForumDaily.
Proposals to sell real estate, too, abound. According to Sonia, the elderly leave for sunny Florida, where they buy houses.
In the summer, Brighton Beach turns into a real resort. Most often, at this time, Americans want to get closer to Russian culture and traditions. In stores you can buy a hat with earflaps or a Cheburashka, and for lunch you can taste Ukrainian borscht. This can be done in the legendary restaurants "Tatiana", "Volna", "Primorsky". The website of the restaurant "Tatiana" says that you will not regret visiting this place where "vodka and cognac flows like a fountain." Such establishments as "Chinar", "Domes of Samarkand", "Caucasus" and many others are popular.
Former journalist of the famous The Washington Post newspaper Robert Kayser often arrives in Brighton.
“Of course I love Russians. And you have the most beautiful women in Russia. Brighton is such a small Russia. I even study Russian here. And your kitchen is just a culinary masterpiece, ”Kayser shared with ForumDaily.
If you can't try Russian cuisine in a restaurant, then in grocery stores on Brighton Beach you can buy an Olivier salad or a Herring under a fur coat at any time. Regardless of the season.
So for Russian-speaking people, living in Brighton Beach is like living in their homeland without leaving the United States.
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