Brighton Beach was developed as a swanky summer resort in the 1860s; impressive hotels were built at the water’s edge. And after Ocean Parkway was extended and the Brighton Beach Railroad completed, the crowds really started coming.
One major attraction: The Brighton Beach Race Course, opened in 1879. It featured thoroughbred horse racing and later harness racing (on sand, oddly enough), soon attracting wealthy New Yorkers who liked betting on the ponies.
But in 1908, New York State severely restricted gambling, and that put a serious dent in the horse racing business. Course owners came up with a novel idea: converting the track into a “motordrome” for auto racing.
The crowds loved it; tens of thousands sat in the grandstand to watch races.
Tags: 19th century leisure activities, auto racing in Brighton Beach, Brighton Beach Brooklyn, Brighton Beach Hotel, Brighton Beach Race Course, Brighton Beach Race Track, Brighton Beach Resort, horse racing in Brighton Beach, Sports in the early 1900s