The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
A Reflection on the City
Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), 9 Aug 1899

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No amount of agitation or criticism could stir the authorities to put a stop to nude bathing along the wharves and piers of Oswego harbor. The bathers have behaved most scandalously all the season and if any attempt has been made to stop their shameful conduct it has escaped public attention. Naked men and boys have romped the wharfs at all hours of the day, especially in the evening, when people like to seek the breakwater for a promenade.

Women and girls have been obliged to give up this pleasure to a large extent, because of the vicious conduct of the bathers. The other evening one of them swam from the lumber wharves to the breakwater and climbed upon it in the presence of a number of little girls. But there is another side to this lawlessness and here we find it pictured in the Newark, N.Y. Gazette:

"Passengers on the 'Arundell' are treated to a strange sight almost every time the steamer enters Oswego harbor. It is that of a score or two of boys and young men going in swimming in the harbor, exposing their persons to the passengers, and by yelling and by gestures attracting all the attention possible. One day last week the lady passengers on the 'Arundell' were hailed and insulted by a gang of roustabout who were discharging a cargo of lumber from the 'Reliance.' Oswego river and harbor have a tough reputation, but it does seem as though the city might do something to prevent such occurrences as are mentioned above.

"A stranger gets anything but a good impression of Oswego by entering the harbor, and it behooves the city to prod its police officials a bit, so that at least during the vacation season passenger steamers may enter and leave the harbor without molestation."

How much longer can Oswego afford to allow this sort of conduct to go on? Can we afford such a reputation as the town is given in the foregoing? Is there no way to correct the evil? The Palladium suggested early in the season that one of the idle slips on each side of the river be screened for the use of bathers. This could have been done at small cost to the city and then it would have been an easy matter to have confined the bathers to these places, and many shameful scenes would have been avoided.

Bathing in the river should not be prohibited. Under proper restrictions it should be encouraged. But such conduct as has been witnessed during the present summer should be stopped at any cost.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Publication:
9 Aug 1899
Richard Palmer Collection
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Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.45535 Longitude: -76.5105
Creative Commons licence:
pd [more details]
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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A Reflection on the City