Skinny dipping off a broken East River pier

George Bellows always seems to have such empathy for his subjects, especially poor street kids—like the ones in his 1907 painting 42 Kids.


In a review of a recent Bellows show in London, a reviewer from The Guardian wrote this:

“[In 42 Kids] Bellows swiftly tallies the figures—’kids’ not ‘lads’ or even ‘boys’—suggesting their closeness to a litter of cubs or pups—who use a derelict pier as the diving board from which they hurl themselves into one of Manhattan’s turbid rivers.”

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7 Responses to “Skinny dipping off a broken East River pier”

  1. Gary Vellenzer Says:

    This same show was at the Metropolitan Museum this spring;

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I saw it, fantastic!

  3. rich tintera Says:

    What’s with the red guy behind red-headed smoking kid? Are those horns on his head, and what’s he doing?

  4. RED DAVE Says:

    My Dad told me that he and his friends used to swim off the Brooklyn piers in the East River in the late 1920s and early 1930s. “We used the breast stroke to push the turds out of the way,” I remember him saying, gleefully.

  5. ledamato Says:

    rich tintera, he’s probably got “crabs.” My Dad told me he got them from the East River, though not possibly true. Maybe that’s what folks believed back then. Who knows what diseases or parasites lived there!

  6. The best place for swimming in the East River | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] That explains not only the many photos of unclothed kids jumping into the river but also George Bellows’ famous 1907 painting, 42 Kids. […]

  7. The men who worked the Brooklyn docks in 1912 | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Painter George Bellows captured early 20th century New York’s lovelier moments: a blanket of bluish snow over the Battery, a girl’s enchantment with Gramercy Park, and carefree boys swimming off an East River pier. […]

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