Tenting On the Beach – Rockaway Beach, NY (1907)

If you lived in a crowded apartment of tenement, the heat of the summer could be insufferable and, sometimes, dangerous.

In the early 20th century, thousands of New Yorkers slept on the ground in Central Park (except when it was banned), drug blankets onto rooftops, or curled up on fire escapes.


Rockaway Beach stretches along a peninsula that abuts the Atlantic Ocean in the easternmost area of the Borough of Queens in New York City.

Until 1950, you could take a train to the eastern end of the peninsula and beach at Far Rockaway.

A resort hotel and some splendid summer “cottages” were erected there by industrialists of the Gilded Age.


On the hot day and nights during the “Dog Days of summer, scores of tents were erected on the beach to take advantage of cool sea breezes.

I have postcard photographs of similar beach encampments in California.

This postcard was mailed in October of 1907, when we expect that the intense heat of Summer had passed.

Gertrude addressed the postcard to Master William Russell of Danvers, Massachusetts.

Danvers is an old town, north of Boston, which is not far from the Atlantic beaches at Revere and Gloucester.


Gertrude may be a married sister (she signs as “Gertrude C.) or a close friend.

On the face, she alludes to a very old joke about mistaking a skunk for a cat.

The postcard was mailed from Jamaica Station of the Long Island Railroad.

One hopes that young William treasured the postcard and that Gertrude enjoyed her sojourn in New York.


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