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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?

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