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Lazy Summertime at the Beach in Pre-World War II Washington

In the early 1920s, when these images were taken, during the hot summer months, Washingtonians headed to a sandy beach along the Potomac River located where the Jefferson Memorial is now situated. The large building shown across the Tidal Basin in one image is the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Called the Washington Bathing Beach, it featured an oversized floating diving platform and was known for its annual beauty contest and beach parade.

Washington policeman Bill Norton is seen in another image measuring the distance between knee and bathing suit at the Tidal Basin bathing beach after Col. Sherrell, Superintendent of Public Buildings and Grounds, issued an order that suits not be over six inches above the knee; the photograph was taken on June 30, 1922.