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"Little Russia" in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn

New York City is home to the largest Russian population and Russian-speaking population in the Western Hemisphere. The largest Russian-American communities in New York City are located in Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. Brighton Beach has been nicknamed Little Odessa due to its population of Russian-speaking immigrants from Ukraine and Russia. [1]


The first Russian immigrants to the United States arrived in the end of the 18th century (one of the first immigrants from Russia was Demetrius Galitzen, a Russian noble who became a Catholic priest in Mount Savage, Md. [2]). Historians differ on the number and the timing of the 'waves' of Russian immigration. The first large influx of refugees from Russia, primarily to New York City, began in the 1880s after massive pogroms and restrictions imposed upon the Jews in the Russian Empire. [3] By the time of the Russian Revolution, prominent political exiles from Russia in New York included Leon Trotsky, Nikolai Bukharin, and Emma Goldman. With the start of the Revolution of February 1917 some Russian exiles moved back to Russia to participate in the Revolution; some of the radicals who stayed in the US suffered from Palmer Raids of 1919 and some were deported from the US. After the Bolshevik takeover in October 1917 and their victory in the Civil War of 1918-20, some of their opponents, including Alexander Kerensky, fled to the US (some call this the "First Wave" of Russian immigration). Many of them made their way to New York City, most of them moving to Hamilton Heights, Manhattan, and other sections of New York City. Many emigres of this wave also came to the US on the eve of WWII from Western European countries already occupied by the Nazis.

The so-called "Third Wave" of Russians were largely Russian (Soviet) Jews, who came primarily as refugees during the 1970s to Brighton Beach, as well as Rego Park/Forest Hills, Washington Heights and other parts of the city, including Manhattan. [4] Among the most prominent immigrant writers and artists of this wave in New York were Joseph Brodsky, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Sergei Dovlatov and Eduard Limonov. Brighton Beach had a re-growth, after being a neglected area of Brooklyn. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the "Fourth Wave" of Russians had a larger share of ethnic Russians and Russian Christians who immigrated to the United States with the largest number going to the New York metropolitan area. Majority of the Russian Americans who considered Brighton Beach their home, began to migrate out to Suburbia tri state area during the 1990s.


The New York Tri-State area has a population of 1.6 million Russian-Americans and 600,000 of them live in New York City. [5] There are over 220,000 Russian-speaking Jews living in New York City. [6] Approximately 100,000 Russian Americans in the New York metropolitan area were born in Russia. [7]

New York City also has a large population of immigrants born in Central Asia, Ukraine, Belarus, and other ex-Soviet states. Most of the Central Asian immigrants are from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, [8] and due to their Soviet influence, most of them speak the Russian language. [9]

The New York metropolitan area continues to be by far the leading metropolitan gateway for Russian immigrants into the United States. In 2013, 1,974 individuals immigrated to the New York–Northern New Jersey–Long Island statistical area from Russia alone, not including immigrants from other previous Soviet bloc countries; [8] in 2012, this number was 2,286; [10] 1,435 in 2011; [11] and 1,283 in 2010. [12] These numbers do not include the remainder of the New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area. Brighton Beach, Brooklyn continues to be the most important demographic and cultural center for the Russian American experience. However, as Russian Americans have climbed in socioeconomic status, the diaspora from Russia and other former Soviet-bloc states has moved toward more affluent parts of the New York metropolitan area, notably Bergen County, New Jersey. Within Bergen County, the increasing size of the Russian immigrant presence in its hub of Fair Lawn prompted a 2014 April Fool's satire titled, " Putin Moves Against Fair Lawn". [13]


As of 2012, Russians generally back the Republican Party, leaning more towards the Republicans than most New Yorkers in general or most immigrant New Yorkers in particular. However, Russian-American voters sometimes support established Democratic politicians who have campaigned in Russian-speaking communities and who have dedicated money to Russian-American causes. Russian-speaking candidates from both political parties often enjoy support from the Russian community when running against non-Russophone candidates. Because of the importance of political primaries in majority-Democratic New York City, Russians may register as Democrats as often as Republicans, despite voting mostly Republican during general elections. The right-wing preference of many Russian-American voters is often motivated by their opposition to Communism and socialism, having an unfavorable view of the Soviet Communism they previously lived under. Left-leaning ex-Soviet immigrants are more likely to immigrate to places such as Canada or Scandinavia, while those who lean right-wing are attracted by America's capitalist values. [14]

See also


  1. ^ "The Everything Guide to Brighton Beach". New York. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  2. ^ "Declining for 30 years". Retrieved 2021-10-04.
  3. ^ "A History of Jewish Immigration to New York - The Peopling of New York City". Retrieved 2021-10-04.
  4. ^ "New Generation Of Russians Making Its Mark". The Jewish Week. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  5. ^ "Russian American Demographics". Améredia Incorporated. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  6. ^ "Aided by Orthodox, City's Jewish Population Is Growing Again". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  7. ^ Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova (April 14, 2016). "U.S. Immigrant Population by Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), 2010-2014 - Russia". Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Persons Obtaining Lawful Permanent Resident Status by Leading Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) of Residence and Region and Country of Birth: Fiscal Year 2013". Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2013. Department of Homeland Security. 2013. Archived from the original on May 1, 2015. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  9. ^ Larson, Michael, Bingling Liao, Ariel Stulberg and Anna Kordunsky. " Changing Face of Brighton Beach Central Asians Join Russian Jews in Brooklyn Neighborhood." The Jewish Daily Forward. September 17, 2012. Retrieved on February 4, 2014.
  10. ^ "Persons Obtaining Legal Permanent Resident Status by Leading Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) of Residence and Region and Country of Birth: Fiscal Year 2012". Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2012. Department of Homeland Security. 2012. Archived from the original on December 22, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  11. ^ "Persons Obtaining Legal Permanent Resident Status by Leading Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) of Residence and Region and Country of Birth: Fiscal Year 2011". Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2011. Department of Homeland Security. 2011. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  12. ^ "Persons Obtaining Legal Permanent Resident Status by Leading Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) of Residence and Region and Country of Birth: Fiscal Year 2010". Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2010. Department of Homeland Security. 2010. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  13. ^ Matt Rooney (April 1, 2014). "Putin Moves Against Fair Lawn". Save Jersey. Retrieved March 19, 2016. In a move certain to carry dire geopolitical consequences for the world, the Russian Federation has moved troops into the 32,000-person borough of Fair Lawn, New Jersey, only days after annexing Crimea and strengthening its troop positions along the Ukrainian border.
  14. ^ Berger, Joseph (May 9, 2012). "Among Russian Immigrants in New York, Affinity for Republicans". The New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2019.

External links