coney island beach 1960sconey island beach 1960sConey Island is synonymous with nostalgia, and the images by  photographer Aaron Rose, taken along the beach and boardwalk between 1961-1963, and now on exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, also spark remembrances of summers past that extend well beyond the shores of that storied locale.

On view for the first time, the prints are awash in both languor and bustle as they depict the crowds converged on the seaside resort more famous for its amusement parks, in a time just before the ‘60s embarked on their tumultuous trajectory. Rose, who’s been described as a “photographer’s photographer,” recently told American Photo magazine that “to be amongst people in the flesh, with such an array of shapes and styles, I just felt it was the best way for me to get into my work with humanity.”

coney island beachWith their vaporous yet burnished tones, and assemblage of colorful characters, the pictures reminded me of many an old photo or two taken during childhood along my own nearby seashores of Miami Beach. They also recalled some lines from a poem inspired by that experience which I wrote many years ago:

Songs of the current nostalgia
Blaze in the seafood air
[Sky-floating bubble of iron welcomes you]
Skins, hotter than carrots
Droop in the summery indolence
Of the southern vein

A summery indolence now remembered with more than a touch of wistfulness… for a time, a place, and a season. (In A World of Their Own: Coney Island Photographs by Aaron Rose, 1961-1963 runs through August 3.)

Photos: © Aaron Rose, courtesy Museum of the City of New York

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