Of Borscht and English Resorts: How Brighton Beach Got Its Name

Photo via Brooklyn Jewish Historical Initiative


Brownstoner takes on Brooklyn history in Nabe Names, a series of briefs on the origins and surprising stories of neighborhood nomenclature.

A haven of thick accents and borscht, Brighton Beach is a dense residential community populated by a large percentage of Russian-speaking immigrants. Known for its oceanside location and close proximity to Coney Island, the area contrasts with its amusement-park neighbor in offering visitors cleaner beaches, fewer tourists and no gaudy carnival rides.

While still a popular spot for day-cations, Brighton Beach was formerly considered a resort complete with live entertainment, including a steel roller coaster and race track, the sorts of things that today are exclusively available at Coney Island, if at all.

Brighton Beach Brooklyn Hotel

The Brighton Beach Hotel being moved farther back along the beach in 1888. Photo via the Library of Congress

The neighborhood’s title finds its origins in England’s East Sussex seaside resort Brighton, the eponymous name of which can be traced back to as early as the 14th century. The name was assigned to the Brooklyn counterpart by the directors of the Coney Island Railroad, who bought the property from developer and real estate titan William Engeman in the late 1800s.

Today, even those who live far from the neighborhood endure the subway ride out to Brighton Beach to enjoy the sun and the sand, while others will go for the Russian cooking.

Brighton Beach Brooklyn

Photo by David Tan via Flickr

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