Gay History

Relive New York City’s Hottest Gay Beach With These Recently-Discovered Photos From The ’60s

Beach 251

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Community Center‘s National History Archive in New York City recently uncovered a handful of rare photos presumed to have been taken from the “gay beach” at Jacob Riis Park in the 1960s. Named for photographer Jacob Riis, the park was commonly referred to as “Screech Beach” back in the day.

The Center’s images were discovered recently at a second hand store in NYC and acquired and scanned into the collection at the archive shortly thereafter. The photographer and any information about the subjects is unknown. Volunteer archivist Rich Wandel founded the collection in 1990 with the intent to preserve the heritage of our community by making it accessible through regular exhibits, publications, and scholarly research activities.

If you’re interested in checking out Riis Beach this summer, making the trip is a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. The east end of the beach is known for gay sunbathing, cruising, and plenty of (unofficial) nudity.

Beach 005

Beach 254


Beach 065

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  • Apparatus

    Gorgeous photos! I can’t imagine what it must have been like to live in that time. Socially backwards but pre-AIDS and surfing the cultural revolution wave of the 60s.

  • Cam

    Wow, Incredible photos!

  • Stache1

    I love photo’s like these. Just people going about their ordinary lives.

  • Sammy Schlipshit


    What do you mean socially backwards? Are the days of actually talking to one another now considered passe’?

    The main thing I noticed is just how ‘real’ all the men look. I pity young’uns these days. How sad for all that time wasted in gyms these days.

  • Cam

    @Sammy Schlipshit:

    I’m guessing that social backwards was referring to the fact that being gay was basically all but illegal in a public setting like that.

  • yaletownman

    Fantastic and beautiful. They actually make me teary eyed because I am supposing that these were pre-Stonewall and I can only imagine what these folks had to put up with to be themselves. We live in an era of emerging freedoms that they could only dream of. These photos remind us of our progress and to remember love one another always. We have a history to be proud of and these photos celebrate that history.

  • Bromancer7

    Oh to have a time machine and be able to visit such eras. It would be amazing.

  • Sammy Schlipshit


    It was the best of times….until it wasn’t.
    We were young and great sex was all over the place. Sure there were the leather boys, the clones, drag queens and the snobs but all in all, we were individuals with varying appearances. So glad to not be young these days. I pity the regular, average, non-gym body men.

    So glad I had the experience….and especially in the San Francisco Bay Area .
    Somehow I survived….most of my pals didn’t.

  • Sammy Schlipshit


    Dear yaletownman,
    We did have such dreams…and we all thought the ‘freedoms’ would have happened decades ago.
    If one was fortunate enough to live in one of the many gay enclaves in various cities, life was pretty sweet. Few, if any, problems.
    I am glad to have lived long enough to see today’s life but sorry it took so darn long.

  • mhrite

    Beautiful series of shots. And how refreshing to read comments that aren’t full of bile and venom! I grow weary of the many, many rancorous jibes that get posted here. Aren’t we vilified enough without doing it to each other?

    Love you, brothers-


  • Alfredo

    I was a faithful regular during from the 70’s to the late 80’s. But the photos do not pick up the police harrassment, the arbitrary arrests and the straightpsychos who got while by oggling gays of all persuations and straight nudists.

  • Alfredo

    i mean “straight psychos who got off while . . .

  • Alfredo

    HOld in there, kiddo. We’ve all been there, done that, moved on. I am now approaching 70 and, for the first time, happily married to my partner of eighteeen years! Remember: if they do not respect you, make them fear you.

  • Alan down in Florida

    In the mid-60s just as my 3 best friends and I were passing through puberty we used to get up early and take four buses to get to Jacob Riis Park in order to shoot a round of golf on their short course. Afterwards we’d hang around eating ice cream waiting for the first bus homeward. This was long before any of us knew anything about homosexuality. I would watch the guys on the beach in wonder of how many beautiful men were there. My friends would complain how the guys there were staring at us. Many times after I found out the truth about Riis Park I wondered what would happen if I went back alone. Probably would have had a completely different life than I’ve had.

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