Taking a swim in the East River, 1892

It must have been pretty hot out on this day at the Fulton Fish Market—so hot that these kids stripped off their clothes and dove in to the East River to cool off, disregarded the fact that it was illegal to swim in the river. For obvious reasons.

Meanwhile, fishmongers and others go about their day.


This photo is part of the New-York Historical Society.

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9 Responses to “Taking a swim in the East River, 1892”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    When I was a kid back in the 60s I used to go diving off a pier on 18-19 Streets and East River. A cement factory stood on the site but in the evenings the workers had gone and no one cared what you did. One time a friend of mine had fallen into the cement powder and the only way to get it off was to duck him into the river, which we did…that certainly got the powder off him.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    Isn’t Con Ed there? That makes me think the water is especially icky. But I guess when you’re a restless kid looking to cool off, you don’t think of those things.

  3. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    Con Ed is on 14th Street and Ave D but if you follow Ave C you’ll run into the river, by the way Manhattan curves. And yes, it was icky, but you just pushed the turds out of your way and just went on swimming 😉

  4. Chicken Underwear Says:

    Today there was a swim around Manhattan


  5. Thomas Jefferson Says:

    My dad grew up in Brooklyn the 20’s, 30’s and the 40’s. He told me that he and his friends, come summer, would always swim in the East River.

  6. petey Says:

    the father of a friend of mine told that he used to go swimming in it too, but you had to accommodate for the tides. he would come up from his neighborhood the 50s to the 80s, jump in (this before the east side drive was there), swim across to welfare island, walk back up a mile or so, and swim back across and land in the 50s again.

  7. wildnewyork Says:

    Great anecdotes. Those tides around Roosevelt Island have a reputation for being pretty treacherous.

  8. A brief history of swimming illegally in New York City waters | Now and Then: an American Social History Project blog Says:

    […] and other “artifacts” they feature.  Last week they featured a great image of some kids illegally swimming in the East River, while workers carry on their business around […]

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