Borscht Belt is an informal term for the summer resorts of the Catskill Mountains in Sullivan and Ulster Counties in upstate New York which were frequented by Ashkenazic Jews. The term can also refer to the Catskill region itself.
Borscht Belt hotels, bungalow colonies, summer camps, and kuchaleyns (a Yiddish name for self-catered boarding houses) were frequented by Jewish New Yorkers, particularly in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Because of this, this area was also nicknamed "The Jewish Alps" and "Solomon County", by the many people who visited there. Well-known resorts of the area included Brickman's, Brown's, The Concord, Grossinger's, Kutshers, The Nevele, The Pines, The Raleigh, and The Windsor.
With changes in demographic and travel patterns, the area has declined as a major vacation destination. The replacement of old travel routes such as old New York Route 17 (superseded by an express highway of the same name, now in the midst of an upgrade to Interstate 86), has left a veritable museum of abandoned or decaying travel-related businesses of the Borscht Belt's heyday in the area.
The tradition of Borscht Belt entertainment started in the early 20th century with the indoor and outdoor theaters constructed on a 40 acre (162,000 m²) tract in Hunter, New York by Yiddish theater star Boris Thomashefsky.
Comedians who got their start or regularly performed in Borscht Belt resorts include: Joey Adams ,
Al Bernie ,
Jack Carter ,
Bill Dana ,
Shecky Greene ,
Mickey Katz ,
Jack E. Leonard ,
Freddie Roman ,
Jackie Vernon ,
Jonathan Winters, and
These resorts have been the setting for movies such as Dirty Dancing and A Walk on the Moon.
Characters inspired by Borscht Belt comics include Billy Crystal's Mr. Saturday Night and Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog.