Postcard: Gay Times! Brighton Beach, 1890s

Unlike those who enjoy their days off at the local beach today, in the 1890s, Brighton Beach visitors played in the sand and swam in the ocean fully clothed and covered up.

This set of stereoscopic cards, entitled “Lot of 2 Brighton Beach Scenes from the Gay 1890s,” was published by Liberty Brand, a company from the same era. A stereoscopic image, like modern day 3D pictures, tricks the eyes into identifying depth in a truly flat image. It’s surprising to think that “3D imaging” has existed for more than a century.

The upper view of the card depicts young children, in their hats, button down shirts, rolled up shorts, and bare feet, playing in the sand. It seems at though they are searching for something. Perhaps they are collecting seashells or sand crabs.

The lower view shows the bathers enjoying their day in the ocean. They are dressed in just as much clothing as the youngsters on the sand. Behind the swimmers, it look s like the resorts of Manhattan Beach can be seen in the background.

Much has changed in the neighborhood over the past 120 years. And, sure, when we say that we could be talking about the old buildings, or the modern complexes that have sprung up on our shores. But, no, really we’re talking about the ample amount of clothing that swimmers wore a century ago. We’re more likely to catch a big blubbery hairball squeezed into a speedo these days.

Still, Brighton Beach is essentially the same place it was in the 1890s. It is an area where families and friends can enjoy a pleasurable, sunny day, playing in the sand and swimming in the ocean.

This stereocard was spotted on eBay.

The Postcard series is a collection of old photos from Southern Brooklyn posted elsewhere on the internet, or submitted by our readers. If you’ve got an old photo of the area in your attic, scan it in and send it to nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.