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.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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