Hot Town, Summer in the City

Bronx Riviera feeling dirty and gritty.


For city residents feeling burnt and gritty, New York’s mile-long Orchard Beach has long whispered of cool water. The manmade seashore—constructed in 1936—is nicknamed the “Bronx Riviera.” Where Jewish folk musicians once played, today salsa cadences unspool near the water’s edge. The beats are background music to a scene as textured as the borough itself. “Whenever I step onto the sandy landscape, I know that I am witnessing history being made,” says Wayne Lawrence, a Brooklyn-based photographer who spent four years beachcombing for the perfect shots.

These eight intimate, arresting portraits reflect the spirit he found.Laura McClure

Jimz, Orchard Beach, 2008.
Long stigmatized as a “ghetto” beach, the manmade “Bronx Riviera” holds a history as rich and complex as the borough itself.
 

Jae, Lindy, and Jaelin, Orchard Beach, 2008.
Since New York City parks commissioner Robert Moses opened it in 1936, Orchard Beach has been a popular destination for Bronx residents trying to beat the heat.
 

Eddie and Tiffany, Orchard Beach, 2009.
Salsa bands have replaced Jewish folk musicians on the promenade, but photographer Wayne Lawrence says the lone beach in the Bronx remains a “workingman’s oasis.”
 

Kye, Kaiya, and Kamren, Orchard Beach, 2009.
The “Bronx Riviera” has soothed generations of families weary of summer grit.
 

Orchard Beach, 2007.
Photographer Wayne Lawrence spent four years trying to capture the spirit of Orchard Beach.
 

Wilvelyn, Orchard Beach, 2009.
Photographer Wayne Lawrence on Orchard Beach: “Whenever I step onto the sandy landscape, I know that I am witnessing history being made.”
 

King Skibee, Orchard Beach, 2009.
Photographer Wayne Lawrence: “I am drawn to rituals of youth, love, and cultural pride.”
 

The YG Wave, Orchard Beach, 2008.
Photographer Wayne Lawrence: “Amid the activities on the beach, I walk in silence.”
 

See more photos from this project in Wayne Lawrence’s book, Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate