A fine day for a swim at Coney Island

And a pretty crowded day too. I’d guess this photo was taken in the final years of the male one-piece, chest-covering swimsuit.

Bathing suits for men and women back then were made of wool. Supposedly this was because it would reveal less of a person’s body shape when wet. It just sounds soggy.


Any idea why this part of the beach is roped off? The water doesn’t appear to be any deeper or have more wave action than the rest of the beach in the background.

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6 Responses to “A fine day for a swim at Coney Island”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    When I used to go to Coney Island in the 1950s they also had ropes stretching from the sand into the water, which I assumed was their way of dividing the bays into Bay 1, Bay 2, Bay 14, Bay 15, etc, keeping some kind of control over the beach and the water. But they didn’t have poles in the 50s, the rope was anchored in the sand and went into the water by water balloon at the end, which also meant you weren’t allowed to swim out that far or else you’d get swept with the tide.

  2. Erica Says:

    I heard that there was some kind of activity called “fanny dunking” in the late 1800s/early 1900s. It involved holding onto a rope and sort of floating along.

    This is from wikipedia (yes, not always a reliable source):

    “During this period, sea bathing became a popular recreational activity. Bathing areas were equipped with poles and an open area of hanging ropes. Bathers clung to the ropes, bobbing up and down—”fanny dunking”—or allowing the waves to break on them.”

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    Cool info. I wonder if fanny dunking will ever become a fad again?

  4. MaryHS Says:

    It’s a safety feature leftover from the 1800s — those heavy cotton or woolen bathing suits weight a ton, and having a line prevented drowning.

  5. reverendjiam Says:

    very few people could actually swim in the late 1800’s. The ropes were there to aloow people to get in the water safely without fear of being immersed in the water and drowned. Because so few could swim the idea was to Bathe – “fanny Dunking”.(Fanny in the usa refers to the bottom rather than the front as in the uk and it’s colonies, reverend J’iam

  6. Blakeney Says:

    Thank God bathing suits are no longer made of wool. But there is something flattering about those male suits of the 20s. And they do look a lot classier than some of the stuff you see on the beach today (in either gender btw). I’ve read that at some (1920s?) point a similar suit was popular for both men and women.

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