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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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Nantasket Beach: 1905

Nantasket Beach: 1905

Massachusetts circa 1905. "Surf bathers, Nantasket Beach." Note the tall ships on the horizon. 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Can I, Mom?

Every beach scene from this era that I've seen on this site quickly becomes my favorite. I love that kid in the middle standing with his hands on his hips, as if semi-patiently waiting for the adults to stop talking so he can ask for something. Permission? Money? It's a very accessible and timeless pose. Love this photo!

I'll be there soon

I'll be heading there on Monday with my family. Temps are supposed to be in the 90s, I definitely won't be wearing a three-piece suit.

Beach life as it should be

No tiny bathing suits you have to continually hold your stomach muscles in with, no speedos, no worries about guns and weapons at the beach. Just a fun-filled, safe day!! (so it seemed!!). Great picture! Looks very relaxing!

That water is c-c-c-cold

Coppertone suntan lotion dates back to 1944.

But I don't think these people are sweating. I think it is a rather chilly day, which often happens at the beach.

Searching the horizon

Far right on the horizon there is a four-mast schooner. It was considered a big ship if there were more than three. Six was the most masts built and that was so rare that usually there was just one around at any given time. I have to say that the little I know about old sailing ships is what I have read since seeing this pic on Shorpy.

Why wear all those clothes at the beach?

Because you have to wear all those clothes anyway - why not wear them where the sea breeze can cool you?

There's nothing more revivifying then sitting on one of the beaches fronting Massachusetts Bay, smelling the salt air, listening to the sussuration of the waves, and feeling that water-cooled air blowing over your skin. It sure beats sitting in one of those hot-box triple deckers in Dorchester or Boston and feeling the sweat pooling in the small of your back, listening to your children bicker and whine. To know that such relief was only a trolley ride away must have been immensely tempting, even to the heavily petticoated.

My grandmother could easily have been that little toddler in the photo. Her family loved day trips to the beach; it was part of the charm of living in Beantown. The photo looks almost as delightful as her reminiscences made it sound.

Apres Midi sur la Grande Plage

So many smiles!

Red, White and Peeling

They may all be wearing hats and covered up with lots of clothes, but I don't think suntan lotion was invented yet. I'd wager there were a fair amount of sunburned faces after a day at the beach.

I have photos of my grandmother, mother and aunt all wearing pristine white zinc oxide on their noses in 1938 during at a day at Golden Gate Park. Did they have something like that in use for preventing sunburns in 1905? Of course, wearing a layer of thick white paste on your face kind of cuts into the fun as it makes you look like a clown. We used to tease our red-headed cousin mercilessly when he wore it as recently as the 1960s. He had GREAT self-esteem, though and logically informed us that it was HIS idea, not his Mom's and it was better than having a bright red nose later.

I love this photo.

It truly is a masterpiece and just a snapshot of life at the same time. Each group by themselves is interesting. The sailing ship in the distance, and the gaggle of young ladies just arriving to take their place in the sand. The clothing is amazing. So civilized. For whatever reason, this could be my all time favorite image seen on Shorpy. What a great era.


I don't quite get the purpose of going to the beach if all you plan to do is sit in the sand and sweat. Obviously neither swimming nor sun tans had been invented yet.

Paragon Park

Nantasket Beach was the home of Paragon Park, one of the amusement parks established by the streetcar companies in this era to get people to ride all the way to the end of the line. You can see the roller coaster in the background. (Fun fact: roller coasters evolved from the same technology used for the streetcars!)

Paragon Park is almost completely gone now, except for the carousel, which still operates.

Nantasket is now lined by a seawall which has replaced all these houses. It makes the beach incredibly narrow at high tide.

Classy beach clothes!

I'm always amazed at how immaculately everyone is dressed in these historical photos. It really makes one think it was an unfortunate day the day they invented the T-shirt and cutoff jeans.

Oh, Dave

This is Shorpy -- no need to tell people to look for details. There's at least an even money chance that someone will weigh in within the next 9 minutes with a learned disquisition on the schooner and its variants.

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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