The Urban Lens: ‘Indecent exposure’ at Rockaway Beach in the 1940s

Posted On Fri, June 16, 2017 By

Posted On Fri, June 16, 2017 By In Far Rockaway, Features, History, People, photography, The urban lens

6sqft’s ongoing series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, we share a set of vintage photos documenting Rockaway Beach in the 1940s. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].

These days, beachgoers give nary a thought when stripping down to their skimpy bikinis and short-shorts, but 70 years ago wearing much more modest swimsuits was enough to get you a ticket from the NYPD. Noted LIFE magazine photographer Sam Shere (who’s best known for his iconic photo of the Hindenburg disaster) documented this “indecent exposure” phenomenon at Rockaway Beach in 1946. Starting with a sign that reads “wear robes to and from the beach,” Shere’s series shows women sunbathing in high-wasted two-pieces, men walking the boardwalk in just their shorts, and the way in which these beach bums seem unphased by the cops writing them summonses.

Rockaway Beach by Sam Shere, Sam Shere photography, indecent exposure tickets, Rockaway history

Rockaway Beach by Sam Shere, Sam Shere photography, indecent exposure tickets, Rockaway history

Rockaway Beach by Sam Shere, Sam Shere photography, indecent exposure tickets, Rockaway history

Rockaway Beach by Sam Shere, Sam Shere photography, indecent exposure tickets, Rockaway history

Rockaway Beach by Sam Shere, Sam Shere photography, indecent exposure tickets, Rockaway history

Rockaway Beach by Sam Shere, Sam Shere photography, indecent exposure tickets, Rockaway history

Rockaway Beach by Sam Shere, Sam Shere photography, indecent exposure tickets, Rockaway history

Rockaway Beach by Sam Shere, Sam Shere photography, indecent exposure tickets, Rockaway history

Rockaway Beach by Sam Shere, Sam Shere photography, indecent exposure tickets, Rockaway history

Rockaway Beach by Sam Shere, Sam Shere photography, indecent exposure tickets, Rockaway history

Rockaway Beach by Sam Shere, Sam Shere photography, indecent exposure tickets, Rockaway history

Rockaway Beach by Sam Shere, Sam Shere photography, indecent exposure tickets, Rockaway history

Rockaway Beach by Sam Shere, Sam Shere photography, indecent exposure tickets, Rockaway history

Rockaway Beach by Sam Shere, Sam Shere photography, indecent exposure tickets, Rockaway history

All photos courtesy of Sam Shere

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