Skip to content

Seaside History

Going for a Dip in the 1920s

July 24, 2013 | by Nate Burke

Folks in the late 1920s were definitely not afraid to get their feet wet.  This photo shows a crowd of bathers on Seaside’s beach cooling off in the Pacific and horsing around in the surf. Due to limited swimsuit fashions at the time, this crowd could all be mistaken for members of the same swim team.  Dubbed “tank suits” (or “maillots”), these one-piece swimsuits were more like a leotard, made out of a springy, jersey-type material. It’s interesting that there is little difference between male and female suits (accept for the flared skirt-like cut for the female design and one resembling shorts for the men).

One might first surmise that this brand of swimwear was referred to as the “tank suit” due to its uncanny ability to make the human body resemble an armored vehicle. Actually, the tank suit is referred to as such because it was, well, a suit originally worn in a tank (a swimming tank that is – i.e. pool). Nowadays, I’m pretty sure swimming in a tank seems rather absurd (one might imagine an alternate universe where folks have summer tank parties in their back yards!). But the old-timey lingo has stayed with us throughout the years. That American Apparel tank top you’re wearing?  Well, it’s the direct descendant of the tank suits you see here.

Never mind what we wear in the water, though – what we do in the water is far more universal.  The brave souls see how far they can wade out and enjoy confronting the waves in a head-on collision.  These daredevils like the feel of the full majestic power of the ocean as their bodies slice through the incoming breakers. Then there are the more modest folk who are just fine venturing in the ankle deep waters. These conscientious and poetical types tend to revel in those moments where the shallow tide flows back against their feet, gently pulling sand around their exposed legs. One can clearly see that both temperaments are represented here in the late 1920s – and if you head down to Seaside’s beach during high summer this year, I’ll bet you can see the same oceanfront antics.

and so much more!

Cozy Up With Bookstore Owner Karen Emmerling

SEASIDE SPOTLIGHT: Our latest profile in a series focused on the behind-the-scenes movers who make Seaside the unique destination ...

Learn More
Churches in Seaside

The buzz of summer is in the air as Seaside welcomes ever-increasing waves of visitors, happily sharing the beauty and bounty of our coastal getaway. As numbers increase on sidewalks, in shops, on roads and in restaurants, our local houses of worship also expand. Some folks desire a peaceful respite during a busy vacation; brides anxiously check out venues for future nuptials; history buffs enjoy the areas older churches; and some just enjoy connecting and worshiping with others of like-minded faith.

Learn More
Washed Away

A look at the cantilever pier in Seaside, Oregon in 1930

Learn More
Mural Walking Tour

Seaside has a flourishing art scene with quaint galleries and a monthly art walk in the historic Gilbert District, but it also has...

Learn More
Fun on the Way to Seaside

You wrap up work on Friday, load your kids into the car and make a beeline for Seaside. We certainly share your enthusiasm, but th...

Learn More
All About Storm Watching in Seaside

Having grown up in Seaside, Keith Chandler knows and appreciates the beauty and the power of watching storms and high tides on the...

Learn More
Haunted in Seaside? Just like all towns with a deep history, there's chatter of the spookier side too. We dive in to find out when and where.
Spookiest Spots in Seaside

A fair number of sites in Seaside are thought to be haunted. So we took a deep dive to see what locals and experts had to say about the paranormal.

Learn More
Sweets in Seaside

Confections conjure up memories of visits to Seaside Oregon as a child.

Learn More
COVID: What to Expect Dining In or Taking Out 

The local beer and Northwest wines are flowing, the traditional ice cream and artisanal gelato is ready to scoop, and your favorit...

Learn More
Establishing Another World Record

Seaside Beach Volleyball Tournament establishes yet another record during stellar event.

Learn More
The Iron Horse Comes to Town

A look at the train that connected Seaside to Portland in 1898

Learn More
Ice Cream for Dinner

More than a dozen frozen treat shops, the thought of brain freeze is likely.

Learn More
Plug and Play While Your EV Charges in Seaside

Whether you’re driving your electric vehicle along the entire 363-mile Oregon Coast Electric Byway or the shorter but equally sc...

Learn More
Clam Chowder
Must-Eat Clam Chowders in Seaside

A look at five of the more than 20 clam chowders found in Seaside, Oregon

Learn More
The Whole Clam Family

Family clamming on Seaside's beach is a tradition that literaly goes back thousands of years.

Learn More
Playland: Amusements in the 1930s

Recognize this classic Seaside landmark? For nearly 70 years, countless kids and adults have come to the Oregon Coast to get behin...

Learn More
Honeymooning in Seaside

Part of the fun of planning a wedding is also planning the honeymoon (and I’ve been collecting ideas for both)! Many couples dream of the ideal honeymoon location, and on the top of their list should be Seaside! Sand, sea, and surf, along with amazing places to stay, eat, and be merry.

Learn More