Enclaves: Little Odessa


Stepping out of the Brighton Beach subway station, you might find some of the signs that greet you difficult to read — unless you’re fluent in Russian. The streets, too, are crowded with a buzz of foreign tongues. That’s because Brighton Beach is home to an enclave called Little Odessa, a nickname coined in the 1970s, when large numbers of immigrants, many Jewish, from Russia and other then-Soviet states began to settle there. In this photo essay, The Observer explores the neighborhood, full of displays of the residents’ cultural heritage that has been preserved throughout the years.

coney island, near little odessa, covered in snow
A view of Coney Island from the boardwalk along Brighton Beach. (MATEO SOLIS PRADA)
storefront in little odessa
A corner store selling traditional Russian cuisine. (MATEO SOLIS PRADA)
a turquoise vintage car in little odessa in a snow mound
A vintage car sits stuck in the snow, across the street from Tatiana Restaurant, which is a popular nightclub in the neighborhood under normal circumstances. (MATEO SOLIS PRADA)
car parked in front of a fur shop in little odessa
Shops advertising traditional fur coats and Russian goods. (MATEO SOLIS PRADA)
front of a church in little odessa with a sign that reads "house of mercy" in english and russian
A Russian Orthodox Church whose signs are almost exclusively in Russian. (MATEO SOLIS PRADA)
yellow awning of a pharmacy in little odessa, with a group of people standing in front of it
Patrons peruse street displays from stores along the main road in the neighborhood. (MATEO SOLIS PRADA)