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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • PROTECT HER FROM TUBERCULOSIS

Down to the River: 1923

Down to the River: 1923

May 28, 1923. Washington, D.C. "Potomac Tidal Basin bathing beach." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

Bathing by Day, Sleeping by Night

An elderly neighbor of mine in the 1300 blk of Maryland Ave NE, born 1916 and since deceased, told me about how she and her cousins and their grandparents would go sleep by the Tidal Basin in the warm weather. Once, they took the sled down to the river, then the snow melted, so her grandfather had to go back home with the horses to get the buggy to carry the sleigh back to the stable.

Cute girl

First in line, sitting right on the ground. The photographer apparently thought so, too!

What happened

The first girl decided to sit down and the rest came tumbling down after her? The gal on the top right is hott. Too bad she's not around anymore.

Scandalous

While to the modern eye these swim suits may appear to be very unflattering to the female form, by comparison with women's bathing costumes of even fifteen years before this is a scandalous baring of skin, not to mention far more form fitting.

Bathing Beauties?

Maybe, maybe not, but they definitely appear to be having a good time.

Shocking stockings!

I think this photo contradicts the view that everyone back then was skinny. Those stockings by the way -- did they have early knowledge of DVT?

How to hide in plain sight--the wrong way

I like the guy trying to be all inconspicuous while taking in the view. Or maybe he's just keeping an eagle eye on his girl.

At least, I hope that's a guy.

Basin Bathers

This looks like the Tidal Basin to me, with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in the background. Our bathers are about where the Jefferson Memorial sits now.

Very unflattering

To the female figure; these rather shapeless costumes, particularly when combined with knee length hose. Was it deliberate to deter any unwanted amorous advances or just a question of fashion?

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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