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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

Lifeguard on Duty: 1905

Lifeguard on Duty: 1905

The Jersey shore circa 1905. "On the beach at Ross' pavilion, Ocean Grove, N.J." Short of tuxes and ballgowns, it's hard to imagine being any more dressed up at the beach. (And cheer up, guy in the middle -- your problems are over by now.) 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

The "guy in the middle"

Do you think he's sad because he forgot his bathing suit?

Warm

I figure, after a winter with no central heating and coal smoke permeating the city, sitting at the beach in the fresh air and warmth felt pretty good, even in your wool suit.

Re: "Well, I never" lady

Looks like she's wearing her "Marcel" original Chapeau

The Scarlet Letter

I know what an "A" stands for, after all we were forced to read the story in high school in the 60's, but what does the "R" stand for on the dude's chest?

[Perhaps the caption contains a clue. - Dave]

Original Bumbo Seat

No one seems to have noticed the little tyke with the Buster Brown haircut in the lower left corner of the photo in front of the two women with shawls. The sand has been molded into a seat obviously by an adult to keep the child put. Ingenious.

Well, I never!

One of them fancy photographer fellers with his no-good box.

Taking the sea air

In the days before modern drug treatments, the sea air was considered highly therapeutic. People with consumption (TB) for example, as well as other diseases were thought to benefit by breathing the salt-laden air. Hence the folks on the pier, and even inside the wide-open windows, are breathing in the therapeutic seaside breezes.

Anyone notice this?

Looking at all the people on this beach you see them with nary anything around them on the sand. Mostly just themselves. Maybe a newspaper or two.

No towels, blankets, ginormous coolers filled with sodas, beer, or food, no boom boxes, no games, no toys, tote bags, floating toys, etc. So simple.

Beach was a breeze to clean up in the morning I bet.

A perfect setting for the old Rodney Dangerfield joke

in which a small boy runs up to a cop, pleading, "Officer, I'm lost! Can you help me find my parents?"

"Gee, I dunno, kid. There's so many places they could hide."

Casual worker

Talk about laid back.

Insouciant

yet alert, lifeguards still adopt that same pose a century later.

Just Curious

Does anybody know what the ropes are for?

[You grab onto them so you don't drown. - Dave]

yeah, i get that - but, in the sand? ...or does high tide bring the water up that far?

Overdressed

Or not, (almost) everybody seems to be having a good time. Why else would they be there?

It's no use

I find neither Zelig nor Waldo here.

It seems in 1905

that people truly had no idea of the purpose of a beach, complete wool suits for men, 12 yards of material in dresses for women and crocheted tablecloths for shawls, some wearing what looks like bathing suits, others fully dressed plunked on the sand, and beyond, hundreds of fully clothed gawkers lining the shore, there seems no purpose to any of these shenanigans.

Ouch!

That man in the suit and white hat is gonna need a chiropractor with that large rope tied around his waist!

Blue Laws

Do we think their beachwear was restrictive? The town was developed by the Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist group from Philadelphia. Before a 1981 court decision, they allowed no automobiles to be driven in the village on Sundays.

 
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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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