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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Jersey Shore: 1908

Jersey Shore: 1908

July 19, 1908. "Negro bathers, Asbury Park." A frolic in the New Jersey surf. 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.

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Hang on!

The lady at the end of the rope is beautiful, but I'm worried about those kids in the water - they don't seem to be holding a rope.

"Negro Beach"

The picture was likely taken near this location. It was the steam plant for all of the buildings on the boardwalk and had a restaurant and concessions for non-white visitors.

The area between the building and the ocean is listed on old maps as "Negro Beach."

The Inkwell

When I vacationed at Asbury Park during the 1960s they still had those ropes. Sometimes they marked where the lifeguard-patrolled sections ended. They were also used to ride the waves.

Asbury Park was a segregated town, particularly at the turn of the century. The small area where black people were permitted to swim, just past the Casino and before Ocean Grove, was called the Inkwell. Not a desired spot, as waste was dumped there from Wesley Lake.

Bathing ropes

Undertow ropes (also called life ropes or bathing ropes) are still a fixture along certain parts of the Jersey Shore. A relic of the early bathing-beach days when many city folks took a dip even if they couldn't swim, and lifeguards weren't that common.

You're a daisy if you do...

I don't think they are going to be able to pull that post into the water with them.

Swept Away

I assume the ropes are to keep the weaker swimmers from drowning, though I've never seen such a rope arrangement on any beach. Anyone know for sure?

At the end of their rope

A whale? A sunken ship? Looks like fun!


What is that guy using for bait?

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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