The City of Chicago opened its first public bathing beach in 1895 in Lincoln Park primarily as a response to the efforts of the 'Free Bath and Sanitary League' (formerly the Municipal Order League). One element of the campaign involved persuading the city and state governments to designate certain spaces as beaches for public use. The second element involved ensuring that the city would clean up and maintain these beaches so that city residents could actually enjoy the benefit of access to clean water. While the primary motivation of middle-class reformers in opening the bathing beaches was to improve the health and sanitary habits of the working class, the campaign also demanded that city dwellers have recreational use of the lake. By the mid 1930’s the City of Chicago had reclaimed the land on which many of the private beaches operated. Montrose was the last harbor constructed in the northside. The most popular muncipal beach was located along Clarendon Avenue south of Montrose. That beachhead and its amenties was established in 1916.
photos - Chicago History Museum via Daily News Archive
This particular boardwalk shown below began somewhere near Diversey Parkway and ended near Grace Street.
1907 postcard - Ebay
photo - Illinois Library Digital Collection
'Tens of thousands in the water at Clarendon Beach, 1916: 23,000 bathers have visited this single beach in one day."
photos - Calumet 412
1916 photo - University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign
Clarendon Municipal Bathing Beach by 1932
image - Art Institute of Chicago
photo above - Art Institute of Chicago
A Map of Possibilities in 1926
The Belmont Yacht Harbor
both images part of my personal collection
a 1940 view indicates a beach area
Just north of Belmont Avenue along the harbor was a beach space that surrounded the club house. That space disappeared after the Lake Shore Drive extension of 1937-42
There's Another Type of Beach
The Doggie Beach
photo - Wibiti
Paying attention is the No. 1 rule of dog beach etiquette. "Keep a close eye on them," said Oliver Sorisho, 20, of Park Ridge, who had his 4-month-old pitbull Bella with him at Montrose. The dog beach is a great place for both humans and dogs to socialize, as long as human interaction isn't your only focus, Clayton, 35, said. Don't ever leave your dog unattended, even if you're just stepping away for a moment, advises MonDog, a volunteer-run organization that represents dog beach owners of Montrose.
Stuff on the ground is fair game, MonDog says. Accept it. "Dogs will pee on ANYTHING on the ground. Shoes, back packs, chairs, bags of poo, coolers, you name it. Once one pees on it, they all want to pee on it. Or one will drag it off as a toy. So put stuff on the ground at your own risk. It's a better idea to hang it on the fence."
Oblige Separation Requests
If an owner doesn't want your dog playing with his or her dog, you should oblige, according to MonDog. If your dog's the one being picked on, should you speak up? When Josia Martinez, of Irving Park, runs into problems, he usually just calls his 5-year-old Siberian husky Luna away to a different area of the huge beach. "It's not my place to say something," he said. "Just relocate."
There's no food allowed on the dog beach, but during last week's visit, it was in high supply. Martinez said the worst etiquette infraction he's seen at the dog beach is people feeding others' pets. "People feeding other dogs, that’s a big problem," Martinez said. "You don't know what someone else's dog is allergic to."
Know Your Dog's Limits
Training is important, and Sorisho's 4-month-old pitbull puppy Bella was learning the ropes at Montrose Monday. Sorisho kept close by, and often pulled her off of other dogs if she started to play too rough. I feel like my dog is the meanest one here," he said. "She always picks on the little ones." Sorisho estimated 95 percent of owners at the dog beach follow the rules, and he's enjoyed getting new puppy advice when talking to other owners. If a dog is aggressive, though, it needs to be leashed and removed from the beach immediately, MonDog says.
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