Spirituality, ritual, memory: a Russian bathhouse in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn: Little Russia by the sea

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Publication Type thesis
School or College College of Architecture & Planning
Department Architecture & Planning (College of)
Author Barker, David
Title Spirituality, ritual, memory: a Russian bathhouse in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn: Little Russia by the sea
Date 2007
Description Standing on the shores of the beach in "Little Odessa" looking into the vast silvery-blue Atlantic the sounds, smells, and taste of a country far away is once again vividly alive in my senses. The smell of simmering borsht coming from a nearby café along with fresh bread, cheese, and plentiful ethnic delicacies spawn the craving to sample the genuine cuisine after going so long without. The chatter and music from the locals awakens cherished memories of long ago with close friends and companions. Today my life running in parallel with the relationships I made 10 years ago halfway around the world feels united. The clear boundaries of place and time have blurred. It was stirring to understand I have returned to the Russia I remember even though I am physically standing in an area of New York City. Following this experience a great desire to share this sensation with others overcame me. Architecture has a similar ability to blur these boundaries creating a personal experience to engrain itself within the memory of each witness. To live in New York is to have the option to visit any country at any time. Never is this ability as effortless as on a trek to Brighton Beach. It is literally a subway-ride from Manhattan into another cultural time and place. Credit goes to the huge influx of Russian Jewish immigrants of the 70's and 80's branded "refuseniks" (unaccepted) by their soviet culture. They nicknamed the area "Little Odessa" in an effort to connect to the storied city of Odessa Ukraine on the shores of the Black Sea. It is the city's last true homage to the old world. A longtime resident of Brighton Beach I had the opportunity to speak with, Vladislav, claimed "This neighborhood is Russia. No matter how much it changes or who come to visit or live here, this is the flavor it's going to be for a long, long time." That "flavor" though is on the verge of a transformation. With great public accessibility, ideal location next to the ocean, and comparatively inexpensive real estate, developers have targeted the area. In response, portions of Brighton Beach are shedding its old world regalia in favor of "milleniumization" which, according to local Realtor, Arthur Kessler means out with the bungalows and in with "Miami style" high-rise condos marching alongside every available square foot of beach. With the presence of these luxury oceanfront communities people arrive from backgrounds ignorant of the gentrification. They are significantly impacting the physical environment while at the same time gating themselves from the local culture.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Subject Little Odessa; Refuseniks; Russian culture
Dissertation Institution University of Utah
Dissertation Name M.Arch
Language eng
Relation is Version of Digital copy of "Spirituality, ritual, memory: a Russian bathhouse in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn: "Little Russia by the sea" College of Architecture + Planning, Architecture Visual Resources Library
Rights Management © David Barker
Format Medium application/pdf
Format Extent 37,978 bytes
Identifier us-etd2,114402
Source Original: University of Utah, College of Architecture + Planning, Architecture Visual Resources Library
ARK ark:/87278/s61c2bcf
Setname ir_etd
Date Created 2012-04-23
Date Modified 2012-04-23
ID 192580
Reference URL https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s61c2bcf