Swimming in the Hudson River
Some locations along the Hudson River had been formally designated for swimming, as with the dock at the Laureate Boat Club or the Pleasantdale Beach. The latter also served as a location for the Upper Hudson River 1,000-yard swimming championships.
People could enter the river anywhere from the Piscawenkill (the Town of Lansingburgh‘s southern boundary from 1807 to 1836) to the Deep Kill (the Town’s northern boundary from 1819 to 1901), and many did – sometimes in various states of undress. Popular locations included near Whale Island and under the Union Bridge to Waterford.
AN ORDINANCE to prevent bathing and indecent exposures within certain [limits of] the village of Lansingburgh, passed July 19, 1832.
Sec. 1. From and after the passage of this Ordinance, all persons are prohibited from publicly bathing, swimming, or otherwise exposing themselves indecently for the purpose of bathing or swimming in the Hudson River, or for any other purpose, between Middle [107th] Street and Canal [120th] Street, in the village of Lansingburgh, at any time between five o’clock in the morning, and eight o’clock in the evening.
Sec. 2. Any person offending against the provisions of this Ordinance, shall […] pay to the Treasurer of said village […] one dollar, to be levied and collected in the name of the Trustees of said village for the use of said village.
By order of the Trustees,
M. L. FILLEY.
Lansingburgh Gazette. July 24, 1832: 2 col 6. [Some words lost in fold of microfilmed, scanned newspaper.]
AN ORDINANCE, relative to bathing and indecent exposures in the village of Lansingburgh.
THE Trustees of the village of Lansingburgh, do enact and ordain as follows:
SEC. 1. From and after the passing of this Ordinance it shall not be lawful for any person or persons to bathe, swim or expose themselves, undressed of their garments, or otherwise indecently, for the purpose of bathing or swimming in the Hudson River, or for any other purpose, between Washington [123rd] street and Middle [107th] street in the village of Lansingburgh, at any time between the hours of five o’clock in the morning and eight o’clock in the evening, under the penalty of not less than one dollar and not more than five dollars for each offence, to be recovered by and in the name of and for the use of the said Trustees, by action of the case before any Court having cognizance thereof.
SEC. II. The Ordinance relative to bathing passed July 19, 1832, is hereby repealed.
J. S. FAKE, President.
C. C. Parmelee, Clerk.
Lansingburgh Democrat. September 06, 1845: 3 col 2.
☞ The luxury of a bath, as conducive to health and comfort is, we fear, not sufficiently appreciated. Every body should indulge in a bath at this season of the year. No man or woman can deny themselves this luxury, when any night after dark you can bathe in the river.
Lansingburgh Democrat. June 27, 1846: 2.
From twelve to two P. M. on Sunday and Monday last the thermometer at Charlie Hasbrooks Store ranged from 90 to 104 in the shade. Rather warm weather. Overcoats can be dispensed with at this heat without regret. Ice water was in great demand. Pete, propel that fan.
What is more refreshing and healthy after a hot-sweating day, than a good plunge into the river. From the commencement of this warm weather, our dock, both at night, and early in the morning, may be found crowded with model artists of every size and description, as numerous as flies around a sugar cask. A good bath and swim at any time well repays the trouble by the buoyancy of spirits it occasions. Those who cannot swim ought now to learn.
Lansingburgh Democrat. June 22, 1848: 2 col 3.
☞ The boys continue their practice of bathing in the River, at the most frequented points. Cannot something be done to put a stop to this low practice.
Lansingburgh Democrat. June 16, 1853: 2 col 5.
—Several boys were bathing at the state dam yesterday, and while diving one of the lads was severely wounded on the head by striking a stone. Another boy in sliding over logs sustained a deep cut in the leg from an iron spike.
“City Notes.” Troy Daily Times. June 7, 1886: 3 col 2.
To Prevent Vice and Immorality and Preserve Peace and Good Order.
Passed July 12, and amended August 7, 1886.
The Trustees of the village of Lansingburgh do enact and ordain as follows: […]
SEC. 3. It shall not be lawful for any person or persons to bathe, swim or expose themselves, undressed of their garments, or otherwise indecently, for the purpose of bathing or swimming in the Hudson River, or for any other purpose, in the village of Lansingburgh, at any time between the hours of 5 o’clock in the morning and 8 o’clock in the evening, and whoever shall violate the provisions of this section shall forfeit and pay the penalty of ten dollars for each offence.
Lansingburgh Courier. September 18, 1886: 3 col 5.
—Bathing along the river front has become such a nuisance that an officer was detailed to the foot of [One Hundred] Twenty-sixth street Tuesday to disperse a crowd of boys that had congregated there. The residents of the vicinity were the complainants.
“Local News and Seasonable Jottings.” Lansingburgh Courier. July 03, 1890: 3 col 1.
Frederick Clickner, about twelve years of age, and companions went in bathing in the river yesterday from the dock of the Troy City railroad power-station at the upper end of Lansingburgh. None of the boys could swim. Clickner got into a deep hole and his companions were unable to rescue him. The little fellow was drowned. The body was recovered in about an hour by Frederick Soucy and Chester Bacheldor and was taken to the home of the parents, 457 Third avenue. The boy was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis W. Clickner and was a bright little fellow.
Troy Daily Times. June 16, 1893: 3 col 3.
—Nude bathing in the river has been forbidden. If it is not stopped Chief McCabe has instructed the patrolmen to make arrests.
“Local News and Seasonable Jottings.” Lansingburgh Courier. June 29, 1893: 3 col 1.
The lowering of the water above the state dam, in consequence of the break in the dam, has revealed many peculiarities previously unsuspected at the bottom of the Hudson. Numerous spots taken for granted to be deep water, simply because no one took the trouble to investigate, have proved to be shallow, and rocks have appeared at the surface in an entirely unexpected manner. This is particularly the case at the Waterford bridge, and many have shuddered at the wholly unknown danger which they went through in their boyhood days. For many years, and until the building of the electric power station for the Troy and Lansingburgh railroad, one of the most popular places for swimming for the boys of Lansingburgh was under the old Waterford bridge. Diving and jumping from the first abutment was the chief attraction of the place, but it is safe to assume that not even the most foolhardy knew what they were doing. Within three feet of the spot where the boys were wont to dive or jump into the water there appeared above the surface, when the water was at its lowest, a single, jagged, pointed rock. There were other rocks all around, and some of them were known, but this rock was in a particularly dangerous position. It was so located that in diving the swimmers just missed it, and had they thrown themselves at a trifle different angle they must certainly have struck, and fatal injuries would have resulted. The most singular fact is not the presence of the rock, but that for thirty years or more it was never discovered.
Troy Daily Times. July 8, 1893: 5 col 2.
—Chris. Nicholasen, a lad residing on Seventh avenue, while swimming in the Hudson above the Union bridge this morning had a narrow escape from drowning. The boy in diving struck his head on a rock and was rendered unconscious. But for the timely assistance of the employees at the barn of the Troy City Railway Company the boy would have drowned.
Troy Daily Times. July 13, 1897: 4 col 2.
The Bareback Nuisance […]
Numerous complaints have been made of boys and young men swimming without bathing suits near the Waterford bridge. Edward La Fay, the toll collector, said this morning: “The piers and abutments of the bridge make an excellent gathering place for the swimmers, who row out to them, undress and dive in. They seem to think that being in mid-river they are out of the jurisdiction of either the Lansingburgh or Waterford police.” Mr. La Fay said that efforts to drive the swimmers from the bridge had been without result. “Still they swim from the old dock north of the Traction Company’s barns on the Lansingburgh shore and are thus in full sight of residents on the Waterford side of the river and of people crossing the bridge. This is clearly the case where the Lansingburgh police could act,” said the collector. “There has been no objection raised to swimming near the bridge providing the swimmers are properly garbed, and in the Mohawk there are some excellent ‘swimming holes’ that are secluded enough so that it would make little difference how the swimmers went in.” Justice Van Kleeck stated some time ago that any suitless bathers brought before him would be punished.
Troy Times. July 30, 1913: 7 col 2.
River Delights and Drawbacks.
The extremely warm weather of the last few days has driven people to the river side, where after sundown there is invariably a cooling breeze to be enjoyed. Every available boat and canoe is being leisurely propelled along the cool banks and motorboats are constantly chugging their way up and down the stream. The sandy beaches on the west side of the river and on the east side just above the Waterford bridge are thronged with swimmers. The drawback to this is the bathing without bathing suits. The spot is within sight of the passengers on The United Traction Company cars crossing the bridge.
Troy Times. June 26, 1914: 22 cols 3-4.