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Wish You Were Here: 1905

The Jersey Shore circa 1905. "On the beach, Atlantic City." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

The Jersey Shore circa 1905. "On the beach, Atlantic City." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Interlocked M&S

I know this is a bit of a bump, but does anyone know what the interlocked M&S on the two kids just to the left of the happy threesome stands for? From their ages I would guess a school.

I also want to echo the sentiment of how moving this image is in connecting people 105 years ago to us today.

[M&S is probably the initials of the bathhouse or hotel that rented the swimsuits. - Dave]


I feel so lucky to live in the era of photography and often wish/imagine I could look back much farther into the past - I'm just fascinated, and reassured really, that humanity churns on, day after day, before me and after me. The way we have lived and adapted to change over the years, slowly as far as biology goes but quickly when it comes to fashion and social change...I can get lost in this and other photos here for a long, long time. Sorry I can't articulate it very well, but thank you so much for this lovely snapshot. And thanks to the poster who reminded me of those Time Life books. I remember those!

Could be today

One of my favourites on Shorpy. The younger ones look so relaxed, one could mistake it for a modern fancy dress party. I love these people shots, yet they make me feel melancholic knowing they are no longer with us. Ignore me! It's 01:27 in the UK and I must go to bed.

Uninhibited by the breach

The two women smiling in the right portion of the photo. Enjoying themselves snaggletoothed and all. Great frozen moment of time for us to study.

From Then to Eternity

In the movie "Atlantic City," when someone makes a comment about the beauty of the ocean, Burt Lancaster says, "Yeah? You shudda seen it 25 years ago, kid."

That '70s Book

I've seen this photo before, in a 1970s series of books published by Time Life called "This Fabulous Century" with one book per decade. I remember this photo because so many of these people seem so modern, especially the couple in the middle -- our great-grandparents.

Well I be

Back in the day I had a body like those young men. As I have aged I wouldn't mind a swimsuit like theirs.


... so do I!

Yesterday and Today

Like so many others before me I am always very intrigued with the folks that display themselves and lives so well in these photos. Changing dress they could be of any era and time, going back forever, I think. We Humans have enjoyed play and communal affection since we first discovered one another. The need for this sociability remains timeless.

Let's hope that this never ends.

The center of it all

It looks to me like the girl is "with" the guy behind her, since he is very close to her, and has his left hand on her left arm. The fellow grasping her head looks like the brother of the guy behind the girl.

Oh, and is that a corpulent man on the left? Don't see many of those folks in these old photos.

Pictures like these

Pictures like these, that strip away the years between "me" and "them," make me so melancholy. "Margaret, are you grieving over goldengrove unleaving?" Yes. Yes, I am.

What I Spy with My Eye

I love the different interpretations of what is happening in the photo. I see a woman who doesn't want to be photographed yet her brothers (friends, cousins, schoolmates? But I think family, look at those lovely choppers!) hold her in place. One holds her arms to keep her from using her hands and scarf from covering her face while the other holds her head to the camera.

At least that's what I see.


Comment on immigration and being American

The people in this wonderful photo may have been recent immigrants, but they all came through Ellis Island, legally and had full intention of assimilating and speaking English. Like my great-grandparents in 1904.

Today, we have a debate about illegal immigration by people not so interested in assimilating and becoming Americans, Without a Hyphen.

Great picture of people having fun and not worrying about who is American. They all were.

A pair of glasses and a smile

One of my favourite pictures on Shorpy. All ages so relaxed in front of the camera, even the older folk who you would imagine would be a bit more wary. I'm sure I've seen him before on this site but that must be Harold Lloyd surely?


Usually we see images of buildings and landscapes long departed. "Not a brick left standing" is the phrase that often occurs in the comments.

But here we have a landscape that could have been snapped at any time in the past 105 years ... even the buildings in the background (is that the Chalfonte, erected 1868?) would have probably been there for most of the past century+.

The nature of Americans hasn't really changed during that span, either and not just in their smiles and pleasures. What percentage of the people over 30 in this photo were actually born in the US? It's an important question, considering all the present debate over immigration and the nature of being an "American." Take a group shot on most of the New Jersey beaches on any July afternoon. The numbers won't be that different.

Much gratitude, Dave, for your beautiful gifts to us. Every image only makes me cherish the beauty and Gift of the Now even more.


This is exactly what I search for on Shorpy! Some tend to either romanticize the past and others seems to vilify. Enamored by the stately homes, the fine dress or what seems to be the "simpler times," while others are appalled by the stench in the air and the very real hardship of life. However, even for the humblest of viewers, one could view this photo and become philosophical about the past towards the here and now, death, what to live for and "what does it all mean?". I often wondered what would history be viewed like if photography existed a few hundred years ago or a few thousand.

Then again I should just enjoy the picture and move on.


I absolutely adore the guy and the girl in the center who are one of the first subjects I've seen on this site who are showing genuine human emotion.

I also get the distinct feeling that they aren't classically together as girlfriend/boyfriend, but they are certainly flirting with one another. I get this from his body language-- he's stepped away from her at a distance to appear respectful, but his touching her indicates that he is most definitely interested in more. This might actually be a wee bit scandalous ... and I love it.

"Like the people of today"?

I don't know about that.

I'd bet none of these men would be stupid or vain enough to refer to himself as "The Situation."


One of the most charming and moving photos I've seen here.

No legs showing

Wow... all the women are wearing stockings. What elaborate swimsuits.

And one other thing...

"...we see that the people of 1905 were pretty much exactly like the people of today, merely clothed differently."

And with inferior dentistry.

Thank you

Moridin, you said exactly what I was thinking, but in a far more eloquent way than I could have ever written. Well done. And many thanks to Dave, as this picture just became my favorite on the site.

Gangs of New York

Looks like Bill the Butcher (fourth from left, behind the other mustache) is keeping a sharp eye on young Amsterdam Vallon to make sure he doesn't recruit those two even younger whippersnappers right in front of him.

Stockings and bulges

It's interesting how our ideas of what needs to be hidden have changed over time. In these old photos women had to wear shoes and stockings even at the beach but men often show quite conspicuous bulges that would be taboo today.

One of my favorites

Just a great picture, it really captures the humanity of these people, who are now all long gone, but immortalized in a single moment here.

Lots of fun, and a good reminder to smile and enjoy things while they are here.

What a cast of characters!

Mario (from Nintendo) is in the center left. Peter Lorre is brushing close to his left shoulder. There are even a pair of jailbirds in the center right.

I can't look away

A particular keeper from Shorpy: I feel as though I should recognize at least five people. The context is that the Civil War was within the experience of one or two of them, while cars, flight, public health, education and endless political upheaval would make their world unrecognizable. In a word, moving.

Fun loving people

What a really great human element picture this is, I like the guy in the center joking with his girlfriend maybe wife. I would of done the same with my friends or they to me in the photo. Best closeup of people enjoying themselves at the beach, ever. Used to think people back then were more serious, this photo shows them like us nowadays.

"Wish you were here"

In another 105 years we *will* be partying with these folks -- dead and completely forgotten!

Most instructive picture on Shorpy

Possibly the finest and most instructive picture ever posted on Shorpy.

Rather than showing the denizens of a far distant time as stiff, alien black & white beings standing and staring uncertainly into a camera, we see that the people of 1905 were pretty much exactly like the people of today, merely clothed differently. This could be any modern gathering of people having fun.

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