What Did Atlantic City Look Like in the 19th Century?
Parasols, bustles, and horse pulled carriages could be found on the beach in Atlantic City just before the turn of the century. During the mid to late 19th century, going to the beach became a recreational activity for the working class in the U.S. Prior, the ocean was looked at as dangerous and unknown. As the turn of the century approached spending the day at the beach became more and more popular.
Here in South Jersey we can thank this change in mindset with the numerous beaches that welcome tourists in the summertime. It is hard to imagine what the first beach goers looked like. Did they wear socks and shoes like shoebies? Well, yes they did. In fairness sandals still had a few decades to become popular. People wore wool bathing suits and women stayed almost completely covered up. This is a stark contrast to today's swimwear.
Here is a photo of beach goers in France in 1888:
In the Victorian Era, horses pulled mini huts called a bathing machine in and out of the water to allow for more privacy when in the water.
So what did the beach look like in Atlantic City in the 1800s? It looked very much like these photos. The following photo is Atlantic City in 1880:
I will never not be amused by the horse drawn carriages on the beach. If you look closely you will see women in very full skirts, parasols, and men in full suits. You won't see that today unless it's for wedding photos.
Fast forwarding a little bit to 1895 in this photo:
The first thing that caught my eye in this photo was the woman on the left with the dress, hat and parasol. Most likely she was also wearing tights, which had to be uncomfortable when wet. Bathers were usually mostly clothed when in the water. The posts that are seen in the photo usually held rope up that went out into the water for people to hold on to.
Atlantic City and the rest of the Jersey Shore remains a popular vacation destination, although it's safe to say it looks very different today.