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Title Oil
Object Name Postcard
Date ca. 1910-1920
Collection Staten Island Geographic Collection
Description Original B&W print. Close-up view of a smiling man wearing a bathing suit. His hair is wet, and there are dark splotches on his face, arm, and bathing suit. Handwritten inscription at the bottom: "OIL." Handwritten inscription on reverse: "What you get / free with a bath / in N.Y. & Atlantic / wast [sic] waters." Printed inscription on reverse: "POST CARD."
(Keywords: New York City, Early Twentieth Century)
Print size 5.5 x 3.5
Acquisition Gift of Edwin Skinner
Ownership and History This is one of a group of photographs donated to the Historical Society in 1952 by Edwin H. Skinner, who for many years was manager of the Staten Island Beach Land Improvement Company in South Beach, Staten Island.

In 1921, Edwin Skinner testified on the matter of water pollution in New York Harbor. His testimony began: "Most directly I represent the Staten Island Beach Land Improvement Co. The company owns altogether about 3,000 feet of water front on the shores of Staten Island...It is a small amusement resort and our business is practically wiped out for bathing purposes which means that gradually it is wiping out our entire interest. Last summer,... out of the total bathing season, on 33 1/3 per cent of the days it was impossible to use the beach for that purpose, owing to the oil sludge that prevailed on the water. People would come out of the water entirely covered from head to foot with this oil. We have used as much as eight gallons of kerosene in one day swabbing the people off trying to remove this oil sludge matter..."

Earliest Date 1910
Latest Date 1920
Subjects Beaches
Water pollution
Lexicon Sub-category Documentary Artifact
Associated People Skinner, Edwin H.
Catalog Number 52.012.0064
Support Acknowledgment Online Collections Database record made possible by the Staten Island Historical Society, April 2017.
Legal Status Items represented here are from the collections of the Staten Island Historical Society. Materials reproduced for personal non-commercial use must credit the Staten Island Historical Society. Commercial licensing is available.