The Development of Private and Public Beaches for Recreational Use
Clarendon Municipal Bathing Beach, 1915
The city opened additional public beaches for both bathing and recreational use throughout the first decades of the twentieth century, including the Clarendon Municipal Bathing Beach in 1915. The Clarendon Beach was located just south of the privately owned Wilson Avenue Beach.
In 1916, within a year of the opening of Clarendon Municipal Beach, a violent clash erupted between city beachgoers and members of the neighboring private Wilson Avenue Beach. In an attempt to keep municipal bathers out of the waters and off of the beaches owned by the Wilson Beach Company, lifeguards and members beat a boy whom they claimed had not paid his admittance fee. The Chicago Tribune explained that "bathers from other beaches can be distinguished from those who pay admittance fees by the manner of bathing suits they wear."
Jackson Park Beach, 1920
The controversy over proper bathing attire included women as well as men. More than a class issue, some women's complaints about their required bathing costumes stemmed from the larger women's movement. In July 1913, Dr. Rosalie Ladova was arrested on the charge of disorderly conduct in July 1913 for removing her bathing skirt and swimming in her bloomers at the municipal Jackson Park Beach. At her court appearance, Dr. Ladova explained, "I believe in swimming, but women cannot swim in skirts." Judge Gemmill dismissed the charge, finding that the doctor's attire was not indecent.
The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago © 2005 Chicago Historical Society.
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