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Daytona Beach: 1904

Florida circa 1904. "Daytona Beach at Seabreeze." A setting conducive to various forms of sedate locomotion. Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

Florida circa 1904. "Daytona Beach at Seabreeze." A setting conducive to various forms of sedate locomotion. Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Smart Move

Most of my Spring Break in Daytona Beach - back in 1978 - was spent recovering from the severe sunburn I received while biking on a borrowed bicycle all day. If I had been dressed as these beautiful riders are - the trip would have been much more enjoyable but alas, a little more lonely!

The clothing

The comment about being dressed for the opera is on the right track, maybe by today's standards, but in 1904, no self-respecting woman would wear a skirt and frilly white blouse to the opera; that was considered casual wear. She would have worn an evening gown. The men would not wear a business suit, they would have worn a Tux, tails, or, at least, a frock coat, not a suit coat like we see in the photo.

Daytona Heat

Actually I find it interesting that there aren't more women and men passed out with what they are wearing. This looks to be summer in Daytona in bright sun on the beach so even on a cooler fall or spring day the temp would be around high 80s to low 90s? Combine that with a tight corset and a long heavy dress, and ...

[This wasn't summer. Florida was a winter resort. - Dave]

Fenderless bikes

I notice that the lady with the stylish sunglasses appears to have the only bicycle with a fender - and only on the rear at that.

Hats, haze, horizon

Those umbrellas and hats make striking silhouettes. Reminds me of this beach scene by Degas.


go way back before the turn of the century. George Washington had a tortoiseshell pair with green lenses that are on display (and for sale) at Mount Vernon.

[A distinction can probably be drawn between tinted lenses, which have been around as long as eyeglasses have, and "sunglasses," which are more of a mass-market retail phenomenon. - Dave]

Overdressed for the beach??

A century later, the beach scene above seems very strange and odd. The majority of the people appear to be dressed up for the opera, rather than the beach. The influence of the puritanical Victorian Age is still apparent. it seems. From the 1920's on, formality on the whole, including on the beach, would start to wane. To the point where today, it seems everyone is an exhibitionist and or/ a slob.

Well, Marion

Do you think this suit is too thick to wear to the beach?

Boogety .. boogety .. boogety

Let's go racing, boys!

There could have been tracks!

Alexander Winton sped down Ormond Beach in the "Bullet No 2" at more than 68 miles per hour in 1903. Today this car is in the Smithsonian Institution.

Sunglass Brand

Foster Grant was founded in 1919 thereabouts, what Sunglass companies are older that that?

[The brand would be no brand. You could have gotten tinted lenses from just about any optician. - Dave]

Surf, sand and ...

I can see several "byproducts" of animal traction carriages there. No wonder most people there are wearing shoes on the beach!


I cannot get enough of these seaside photos. More please!


Imagine how they would've reacted to a Land Speed Record machine hurtling towards them!

Cool Shades

I didn't know sunglasses existed then but the lady in the foreground with the bicycle certainly proves they did.

Oil and water

Where beach driving began and still (sadly) continues.

Points of Interest

There are all kinds of things going on in this photo.

- A little boy on the far right appears to be wearing long-johns.

- The woman on the far right of the full carriage from the Clarendon Inn has some sort of problem (possible fainting?) and everyone else in the carriage seems concerned about her.

- I was astonished to see a practical woman actually carrying what appears to be a rolled up spread of some kind.

- As previously mentioned, a woman is wearing sunglasses; it hadn't occurred to me until now that I don't recall ever seeing a woman (or a man, for that matter) on the beach in these vintage photos who was wearing sunglasses.

- There's a man who looks like he's walking a dog that has apparently been completely buried in the sand, because there's no dog attached.

Is the woman somewhat past the Clarendon carriage taking a photo?

There's what appears to be a boy at the waterline being helped up who might have fallen into the water. A lot of people are watching whatever is happening there.

A woman with a white hat, white blouse, dark skirt and an hourglass figure looks (from the back) like she could be Mae West.

There are a couple of horses hooked up to a small carriage near the right. One of them appears to be talking to the other one. I'm thinking it's saying something like: "So I sez to her, I sez 'You're a real NAG, ya know that?'"

Still there

... sort of.

72 years later

I was engaging in Spring Break debauchery right there!

You can see for miles

You can understand why this beach, until the late 1950s, was used for many automotive racing events! The first NASCAR events, when it was still real, used the beach for part of the track. Neat stuff.


Those are two-horsepower wheels, bud.

Not even one fat guy in a speedo

I don't get it.

Troublous Tableau

Maybe it's my emergency responder training, but I don't like the looks of the scene in that carriage at left. Everyone is focusing their attention on the slumped over woman at the end of the bench, while the man across from her appears to be holding her hand.

A case of the vapors? Or the combined effects of a warm day and a too-tight corset?

Or maybe she's merely holding a fascinating seashell in her lap and everyone else is looking on in awe?

If I were a lifeguard I'd be grabbing my First Aid kit and heading for the coach to check it out.

[I think they're reading. - Dave]


Must be spring break, when all the riffraff shows up. There's a woman out there with no hat on. Disgraceful public display.


What is that 2 foot tall headless creature in the very center of the photo?

[A tot in a bonnet. - Dave]

I see fast people

That little girl running full tilt at the far left might have known what others were starting to discover: how good this hard sand beach would be for speed.

Who's behind those Foster Grants?

Very stylish sunglasses on the woman at lower left. What a great scene!

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