Southern Brooklyn

Remember When: Beatniks And Greasers Strutted The Boardwalk… 56 Years Ago

Hep Cats (Source: 50sand60s via Twitter)
Hep Cats (Source: 50sand60s via Twitter)

Dig the scene. A couple of cool daddios parade down the boardwalk on Coney Island, smoking cigs and flashing tattoos, grooving on all the squares terrified over their rock n’ roll attitudes.

Yes, that was an incredibly lame description but the picture above, provided on Twitter by the @50sand60s account, is a fascinating glimpse into how little changes in the world of cool. Yes, tattoos, Ray Ban sunglasses and hipster hairdos were also all the rage in 1957, proving that Coney Island is always a place to look cool and be cool… or something.

Freakin’ hipsters.

Comment policy


  1. This photo was taken by the great American photographer Bruce Davidson.

    He is still alive! Willie/Ned, please do not post photos on this site unless you give credit! Your source – Twitter!? – really?!

  2. Wonder where on the boardwalk this was taken. Coney Island or Brighton Beach? None of the buildings look familiar.

  3. I’m afraid you’re quite right. People are twittering and Facebooking all sorts of photos that are still protected by copyright. In fact, copyright laws regarding photography are more restrictive than those involving writing. For starters they are protected for 100 years. The current status of non-photographic materials is that anything later than 1922 is protected.

  4. Great picture. Please post more like this.
    I was wondering the same thing, being a Coney fan. Then I put 2 and 2 together, and hopefully don’t get 5.
    One doesn’t see any amusements. Also, one doesn’t see the Half Moon Hotel, which was on West 29th and boardwalk. So, I would have to guess you’re looking at near the end of the boardwalk, at least 30th street.

  5. But the MAJOR difference between the beatniks of yesteryear and hipsters of brooklyn today. Back then they weren’t complete idiots when it came to money. They didn’t blindly pay outrageous rents or spend ridiculous amounts of money on muffins and food. They didn’t come to Brooklyn because they thought it would make them cool.

  6. I love hipsters. They have culture and interests (which differ from mine, but so what, to each his own). And they dress weird and they don’t give a flying fuck what you and I think of them, which is also a good thing. I wish I were one. The closest I am to being one is wearing one of their hats, which I got for five bucks in the next hipster neighborhood – Coney Island
    I love beatniks too. Maynard G. Krebs was my childhood idol. I have to hunt down and harm the lady who borrowed my copy of “On the Road” and never returned it. Every time a beatnik shows up in a movie, I deem that movie “excellent”.
    Hippies I weren’t crazy about. They made drugs okay and protested the war just to save their ass. As soon as the war was over, they cut their hair, went to Wall Street and bought huge houses. Now the ex-hippies preach their causes from the safe distance of their all-white suburbs. I formulated a mathematical rule: 80% of those who preach about diversity live in 80% white neighborhoods! I tested his hypothesis on facebook and found it fairly accurate.
    My lecture on recent American culture/history has concluded. I’m sure everyone agrees 100% with everything I said. What was the original subject again? Oh yeah, hipsters. I love ’em. If this neighborhood turned hipster, I’d be a happy man. If they didn’t throw me out for being old. Oh, a few months ago, my goddaughter announced she wanted to be a hipster. I promised to help to the fullest. A lofty goal for a 10 year old. She’s heading in the right direction.
    Address any responses away from my email address please.

  7. PS. I remember amusements in Brighton Beach, just east of Ocean Parkway. I used to play skee ball there occasionally.

  8. That building to the left, second story balcony still exists, something tells me Brighton Beach looking at it, but cant remember exactly where. The billboard isn’t there anymore. I am thinking Brighton 2nd??? around there?? As far as not seeing amusements, this was before the Astrotower was built, so you would only see the Wonder Wheel or Parachute Jump in the distance. If this is Brighton Beach, remember, the boardwalk makes a slight left turn around Ocean Parkway, so those items would be out of frame on the left side. What is currently a municipal parking lot by Brighton 4, used to be a amusement park. I remember when they were resurfacing it back in the 80’s?? they were pulling up remnants of it. I worked at Hirschs at the time and he told me it was a amusement park, kiddie park before a parking lot. my best guess.. but only a guess

  9. I was also thinking the the kosher sign could be from Hirsch’s Knishes. (i probably bought a knish from you.) But if that were the case, the other building was demolished when they built the parking lot. The eastern part of the current parking lot was an amusement park. (I once rode the ferris wheel there for three hours, because the attendent forgot about us and we kept quiet every time the wheel stopped to discharge passengers. What a bargain, an hour of fun for a dime.) There also was a small private beach club there right by the amusement park if you wanted to rent chairs and umbrellas and didn’t want to mingle with the riff raff on the sand or under the boardwalk.

    But where is the amusement park if it is Brighton Beach?

  10. This statement is not entirely accurate. Copyright law is a bit more complex, and it depends on the format of the work and its publishing status, as well as whether it was registered or not. Artistic works have their own set of rights (Google “Visual Artists Rights Act”). For copyright, see this most excellent chart for guidance:

  11. More complicated than this chart, as it is not specific to photography, which is considered a unique category.

    However, generally speaking, most works which have been properly registered before 1978 are covered if their original copyright date is after 1923. Photographers do have a right to challenge republication. All works, copyrighted or not, from after 1978 have automatic rights of ownership.


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