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Friday, June 11, 2010

Brighton Beach

New York is a city of contrasts. And contrasts within contrasts. Brighton Beach is a community sharing the Coney Island peninsula with Sea Gate, Coney Island and Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn. See the photo gallery of my recent visit here.

I took a long walk through the neighborhood and met a long-time local resident having a smoke in his front yard. He was quite friendly and informed me how neighborhood changes have been drastic in the last five years and how he anticipates more of the same. According to him, the biggest change and factor in escalation of real estate prices has been a rapid infiltration of Russian organized crime. Small bungalows are purchased, leveled and transformed into large private homes or apartment condominiums. He pointed out developments all around us, sprouting up amidst small homes. This resident was offered $1 million for his small home. Certainly the Russian influence is felt in the shopping areas - many signs are in Cyrillic alone. Many articles have been written on the problem which goes back decades - see a New York Times article here.

Cottages, high rises, condos, luxury homes, gated communities, buildings in disrepair, organized crime, ethnic enclaves, alleys, lanes, weeds, flowers, the boardwalk and the Atlantic Ocean. That's Brighton Beach...

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