Photo of the Week: Polar Bears in Brooklyn

[Polar Bear Club member at Coney Island], ca. 1978, V2008.013.3;  Lucille Fornasieri Gold photographs, 2008.013, Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Polar Bear Club member at Coney Island], ca. 1978, V2008.013.3; Lucille Fornasieri Gold photographs, 2008.013, Brooklyn Historical Society.

When most people think of winter in Brooklyn, swimming at Coney Island isn’t the first thing to come to mind. Brooklyn Photographer Lucille Fornasieri Gold captured this man—a member of the Polar Bear Club—doing just that during the winter of 1978. The Polar Bear Club was founded in 1903 by Bernarr Macfadden. Macfadden was an early pioneer of “physical culture”—bodybuilding, exercise, nutrition, and other theories of health and wellness. According to the Coney Island Polar Bear Club website, it was the belief that “a dip in the ocean during the winter can be a boon to one’s stamina, virility and immunity.” Every New Year’s Day, there is an annual polar bear plunge at Coney Island, encouraging all to participate. View Time Out New York’s photo gallery from the 2015 event here. For more information on the Polar Bear Club, or to join in the fun, visit their website here.

You have until January 25th to check out Gold’s work in the She Said, She Said exhibit at Brooklyn Historical Society. Don’t miss it! In the meantime, see more of her photographs online here.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here. To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. photos@brooklynhistory.org

Source: Polar Bear Club, USA, retrieved from: http://www.polarbearclub.org/polarbears/history.htm

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