SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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About the Photos

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.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

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Sea Water Baths: 1904

Sea Water Baths: 1904

The Jersey Shore in 1904. "Boardwalk at Green's Hotel, Atlantic City." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Photographic Company. View full size.

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Sun Baths at The Pier

Atlantic City "Sun Baths" Look closely for the sign.

Six years later

From a slightly different perspective, here's a view of the beach and the "Richard's Baths" in 1910, from a postcard in the New Jersey Almanac records.

"Do you know what fish do in that stuff?"

Despite W.C. Fields' ostensible dislike of good old H2O, very early in his career he had a summer job as a "drowner" for various Jersey Shore hotels. He'd swim out beyond the surf line when there was a decent crowd on the boardwalk and very histrionically thrash about like a drowning man. With commensurate drama, a lifeguard or two would perform an exciting rescue, to the "ooohs" and applause of the tourists.

[Another version of that story can be found here. And yet another here. Both involving concession sales. - Dave]

Someone who claimed to have known Fields once told me that after one such performance, as the future comedian was being borne on a stretcher off the beach, he heard a woman remark, "My God, Mabel! That man must be a hopeless drunkard. It's the third time they've had to rescue him today."

Reflecting on W.C.'s distinctive features, it's clear that he was a poor choice to play a succession of non-descript victims. But he survived to conquer vaudeville, then talking pictures, and leave a legacy that persists until this day, so in a small way we have publicity-hungry Jersey hoteliers to thank for that.

Such Civility!

My mom, born in 1920, instructed me at a very early age to always walk to the right-hand side be it a staircase, a sidewalk or a hallway. Everyone stays out of each other’s way and can enjoy the view without worry. No Mexican standoffs! Nowadays you’d think most young people were British the way they hog the left side -- very stressful.

SHORPY OLD 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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