Summer in the City

‘Orchard Beach’ Captures Community and Diversity of New York City’s Bronx Riviera

In ‘Orchard Beach,’ photographer Wayne Lawrence honors the working class people who flock to the Bronx’s only beach.

Wayne Lawrence/INSTITUTE

Wayne Lawrence/INSTITUTE

One of New York City’s five boroughs, the Bronx is only now beginning to escape the cliches of urban blight that defined it from the 60s through the 80s: arson, drug addiction, and social neglect. But the borough has always been a launching pad for immigrant working families, who since the 30s have had their own beach (the only one in the Bronx), Orchard Beach, created by New York’s master builder and social planner, Robert Moses. Photographer Wayne Lawrence acknowledges the beach’s reputation as one of the worst in the city ('Horseshit Beach’ is one of its more printable nicknames), but insists that the scarred landscape is nonetheless ‘a treasured respite from the sweltering confines of the concrete jungle’ for Bronx residents. ‘I began shooting portraits of Orchard Beach’s summertime regulars in 2005 shortly after moving to New York,’ he writes by way of introducing the people pictured in his book. He realized, he writes, ‘that the stigma attached to this oasis was largely unjustified—I felt compelled to engage with this community of working class families and colorful characters. The photographs in Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera celebrate the pride and dignity of the beach’s visitors, working-class people.’

 

Shown here: Adam and Pamela, 2009

Wayne Lawrence/INSTITUTE

Jae, Lindy and Jaelin, 2008

Wayne Lawrence/INSTITUTE

Untitled, 2005

Wayne Lawrence/INSTITUTE

Michael, 2011

Wayne Lawrence/INSTITUTE

Cinnamon, 2009

Wayne Lawrence/INSTITUTE

Kye, Kaiya and Kamren, 2009

Wayne Lawrence/INSTITUTE

Frank, 2008

Wayne Lawrence/INSTITUTE

Lamar and family, 2011

Wayne Lawrence/INSTITUTE

Yari, 2011

Wayne Lawrence/INSTITUTE

Darius and Eddy, 2011