Dandy Point: the 1820s city’s popular swim spot

How did New Yorkers of the early 19th century handle summer?

If they didn’t cool off at one of the city’s lovely pleasure gardens, they may have gone to Dandy Point—a popular East River recreation spot at today’s East 13th Street, depicted here by William Chappel.

A Harper’s New Monthly Magazine article from the 1882 looked back at Dandy Point, which was just north of several shipyards.

“Above of the northernmost yard the bank of the river sloped into a beautiful beach of clean fine sand, where at evening scores of men and women assembled to bathe in Arcadian simplicity,” stated Harper’s.

“Dandy Point, or ‘Pint,’ as they called it, was the name of this popular resort, and no summer night passed without witnessing the arrival of bathing parties of twenty of more persons of both sexes.”

“Down from the big wagons they jumped, the men going to one spot, the women going to another not far off; and when their clothes had been exchanged for older or less valuable ones, without the protection of bath-houses of any kind, down into the water they ran, disporting themselves as freely as dolphins.”

[Second image: East River at 53rd Street in the 1830s, to give an idea of what Dandy Point might have looked like; Wikipedia]

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2 Responses to “Dandy Point: the 1820s city’s popular swim spot”

  1. Zoe Says:

    When I lived in a brick oven on E.1rst St. in the early & mid 80s (brick tenement four to a floor studio apartments which we called giant ‘pizza ovens’ as the ancient wiring of one outlet to a room did not even support an air conditioner) in a back apartment facing another brick wall (think Ralph & Alice’s apartment in the Honeymooners or the one in the film ‘Eraserhead’) I used to think about what a shame it was that the nearby shoreline had been developed AND made completely inaccessible (except apparently to illegal dumpers).

    Though the accessibility has since been addressed somewhat the beaches & swimming have not been restored. (Cannot ever be?).

    Thankfully I grew up on the CT Shore an hour outside NYC & I would jump on the train to go to the beach there. (No charge when walking in without a car… shhhh so they never change those rules…).

  2. Untapped Staff Reads: Belvedere Castle to get a $6 Million Makeover, Dandy PointSwim Spot of the 1820’s | Untapped Cities Says:

    […] Dandy Point: the 1820s city’s popular swim spot [Ephemeral New York]: How did New Yorkers of the early 19th century handle summer?If they didn’t cool off at one of the city’s lovely pleasure gardens, they may have gone to Dandy Point—a popular East River recreation spot at today’s East 13th Street. […]

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