You’ll find knishes, borscht, blinis, loads of shops, bakeries, fruits and vegetables, black market caviar and of course, vodka, along Brighton Beach Avenue, the neighborhood’s main artery that caters to a thriving Russian community. Day trippers from the five boroughs also make the trek (especially during the summer months) to this Brooklyn neighborhood along the Atlantic Ocean and nearby Coney Island’s amusement park.
Brighton Beach is bounded by Coney Island at Ocean Parkway to the west, Manhattan Beach at Corbin Place to the east, Gravesend at the Belt Parkway to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the south.
Brighton Beach was founded by real estate developer William A. Engeman and named by Henry C. Murphy along with a group of entrepreneurs in an 1878 contest. The name was chosen because it evoked the memories of the English resort Brighton.
The center of Brighton Beach was Hotel Brighton, located at what now is the foot of Coney Island Avenue that was owned by Engeman. The hotel was popular with Manhattanites because it was easily reached from New York City via the Brooklyn Flatbush and Coney Island Railway, and distant enough to suggest a vacation.
The following year, The Brighton Beach Race Course opened next to the hotel and was headed by Engeman and the Brighton Beach Racing Association. The one-mile track was a smash hit with wealthy New Yorkers. A few of the track’s major events were the Brighton Derby for three-year olds and the Brighton Handicap that was open to older horses.