A Look at Beach Days Through the Ages (in Pictures)

A Look at Beach Days Through the Ages (in Pictures)


Beach days haven’t always been bikinis and flamingo floaties. Take a nostalgic walk along a memory-filled beach for a look back at beach days dating to 1880. You won’t believe the swimsuits of 1922.


Source: loc.gov

1. People Swimming in the Bay – 1880

In this rare photo, Frances Benjamin Johnston can be seen sitting on the edge of a small boat, among a group of people enjoying a swim. Frances was a famed photographer and photojournalist of her time, with a successful career spanning almost half a century.


Source: loc.gov

2. Visiting the Atlantic City Boardwalk – 1903

America’s first boardwalk opened on June 26, 1870, in Atlantic City, N.J. It became a popular attraction that included shops, lavish hotels, massive electrical signs and was a romantic seaside setting for lovers to visit. By the time this photo was taken, the boardwalk had been rebuilt several times due to damage from hurricanes.


Source: loc.gov

3. More Risque Swimwear Raises Attention – 1909

The sleeveless one-piece bathing became increasingly popular during the early 1900s, especially after police arrested professional swimmer Annette Kellermann for indecency when she wore one at Revere Beach, in 1906.


Source: loc.gov

4. June Roberts Wearing a Rubber Swimsuit  – 1922

As swimsuits evolved through the early 20th century, they started to become more fitting and show more skin. Here June Roberts showcases her new rubber bathing suit for an eager audience.

historic photos, beach, historic

Source: loc.gov

5. Fashion Police – 1922

In 1922, Colonel Sherrell, the Superintendent of Public Buildings and Grounds in Washington D.C., issued an order that all bathing suits must not be more than six inches above the knee. Here, you can see Bill Norton, the beach ‘cop,’ using a measuring tape to determine whether a woman’s bathing suit is within regulation. 


Source: loc.gov

6. The Birth of a Pearl – 1923

Photographers have flocked to picturesque beaches like this, in search of the perfect backdrop. This photographer went a step further by adding a large prop seashell to the scene. The model, wearing a bikini draped in pearls, strikes a pose while standing inside the shell.

7. Men’s Bathing Suits Started to Evolve – Mid 1920’s

Women’s suits were not the only ones becoming tighter. By the mid-1920s, men’s bathing suits began to slim down as well. More suit material was removed from the back and from under the arms, making it easier to swim and show off more figure.


Source: loc.gov

8. Fashion Model Natalie Nickerson Paine – 1946

Flashback to 1946 when this photograph of model Natalie Nickerson Paine was captured in Montego Bay by photographer Toni Frissell.

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