Sunbathing on a Midtown tenement’s tar beach

You can practically smell the coconut oil: Photographer Thomas Hoepker takes us back to New York City in 1983 with this evocative image of a rooftop sunbather on a lonely tenement somewhere in Midtown.

It looks hot up there with the black tar roof. Note the TV antennas!


More of Hoepker’s New York photos spanning many decades can be seen here.

© Thomas Hoepker/Magnum Photos

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8 Responses to “Sunbathing on a Midtown tenement’s tar beach”

  1. realeyezlife Says:

    i used to do that on top of my building on 112th and riverside back in the early 80s place to get a tan

  2. Pontifikate Says:

    That could have been me if the rooftop was downtown. Guess you never know who’s watching.

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I saw a couple of sunbathers out today on tenement roofs…it’s what summer in New York when you’re broke is all about!

  4. penelopebianchi Says:

    the astonishing thing is that many of those tv antennas are still there! not working; people just don’t remove them! All over houses rooftops, too! Ugly when you can see them! Most don’t notice!

  5. doublewhirler Says:

    Ah the tar beach! Thanks for the memories…

  6. Tom B Says:

    When staying at the Waldorf on the Lex Ave side, we could plainly see nude sunbathers across the street on their terrace.

  7. Maggie's Farm Says:

    NYC: Tar Beach

    When I was first working in NYC, back in the early 80’s, sights like this were common from my office.  In the 90’s, I worked across the street from Radio City Music Hall and the Rockettes would use the roof to sunbathe.  We kept the binocul…

  8. When New Yorkers went to roofs to sunbathe | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] to host residents. What did New Yorkers do if they lived in a building without an official rooftop? Tar beach, of […]

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