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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 • ROSES BY VINCENT VAN GOGH, 1890

The Girls of Summer: 1922

The Girls of Summer: 1922

Washington, D.C., 1922. "Potomac bathing beach." View full size. National Photo Company Collection glass negative, Library of Congress.

 

Pictured, left to right

Small, Medium and Large.

Harry McGraw

My great-uncle, Harry L. McGraw, drowned along with a friend two days before the beach formally opened in the 1890's. A lawsuit followed, but I don't know the end result. Apparently neither 13-year-old Harry nor his friend could swim, and stepped off a ledge into some kind of crater that dropped off 12 feet. The authorities found the boys' clothing in a bathing house on shore and were able to identify them. This sad story has always made me wonder exactly where the beach was located, and I'm assuming it was right near the Jefferson Memorial.

Wow

1922?! Aside from the costumes those girls look like 3 attractive lassies tha you might see on a beach today. Maybe that's the point of posting photos like this. Thank-you.

Bathing Beach

I looked through more of the LOC photos tagged under "Potomac Bathing Beach" and similar.

There's a photo looking parallel to the beach that faces the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

There's another photo taken looking perpendicular to the beach, facing out over the water. What appears to be the Lincoln Memorial is far off in the distance.

Another photo taken parallel to the beach (with the beach on the right) shows the Washington Monument in the background.

The beach must have been nearly on the grounds of the Jefferson Memorial itself rather than what I "said" earlier, trying to put it across the Tidal Basin where the current baseball fields (and Roosevelt Memorial) are now.

Between the wars. Before the Depression. That must have been quite a time to have been living in Washington.

Beach history fan.

I got curious about where this beach was and if it was still open. I guess I found where it "was" but it was apparently closed in 1925.

Based on earlier comments here and monuments/buildings in the photo backgrounds, I found this in a report on the Jefferson Memorial and its grounds at nps.gov:

In 1897, Congress established that the entire area, including the Tidal Basin, formerly known as Potomac Flats, should become a public park. ... the bathing beach adjacent to the future memorial site became popular. Swimming in the Tidal Basin continued until about 1925 when it was stopped by the newly merged Office of Public Buildings and Grounds and Office of Public Parks of the National Capital. The reason for this was twofold; firstly, because of the health risks caused by the debris which floated in the Tidal Basin through the Inlet Bridge and second, due to the racist policies which limited the use of the beach to whites only. Rather than allow access to the beach for everyone, it was closed and returned to its former condition, a natural waters edge without sand. ... The site of the former beach was occupied by baseball fields and tennis courts.

So, I assume the beach was located where the current baseball fields are across the Tidal Basin from the Jefferson Memorial?

The cutie in the middle? She'd be 104-110 years old today ... sigh.

Three Graces

My goodness. The young lady in the middle ... wow.

The Silent Movie...

...Kirsten Dunst, Cate Blanchett and, er, Helena Bonham-Carter?

Zowie

Nice find.

Hubba-Hubba!

These ladies are hot even by today's standards! I love the Star Trek alien on the far right. I bet he thought he was the coolest dude at the shore!

 
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