Capturing Chicago: Charles Cushman’s sunbathing beauties of Chicago

Charles Cushman's photos gorgeously capture sunbathing beauties at Promontory Point in Hyde Park from 1941–1949
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Jean at Promontory Point, September 5, 1946.
Photograph: Charles W. Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

Jean at Promontory Point, September 5, 1946

Sunbathers with a fishing pole and suitcase at Promontory Point, July 18,1942.
Photograph: Charles W. Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

Sunbathers with a fishing pole and suitcase at Promontory Point, July 18, 1942

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(Left) Two women relax with a radio and book at Promontory Point, July 30, 1941. (Right) Mary on Promontory Point, Sept 1944 (Right)
Photograph: Charles W. Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

Left: Two women relax with a radio and book at Promontory Point, July 30, 1941. Right: Mary on Promontory Point, September 1944.

It's summer vacation for for Hyde Park schoolgirls at Promotory Point, June 27, 1941.
Photograph: Charles W. Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

It's summer vacation for for Hyde Park schoolgirls at Promotory Point, June 27, 1941.

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It's summer vacation for for Hyde Park schoolgirls at Promotory Point, June 27, 1941.
Photograph: Charles W. Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

It's summer vacation for Hyde Park schoolgirls at Promotory Point, June 27, 1941.

Judy and a friend lounge in the grass at Promontory Point, July 20, 1941.
Photograph: Charles W. Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

Judy and a friend lounge in the grass at Promontory Point, July 20, 1941.

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A swimmer poses astride rock off Promontory Point.
Photograph: Charles W. Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

A swimmer poses on a rock off Promontory Point.

Three girls sit on the rocks at Jackson Park near 67th St. July 1941.
Photograph: Charles W. Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

Three girls sit on the rocks at Jackson Park near 67th Street, July 1941.

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(Left) Girl with dalmatian at 55th St. along Promontory Point. (Right) Mary Jane at Promontory Point, June 1944.
Photograph: Charles W. Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

Left: Girl with dalmatian at 55th Street along Promontory Point. Right: Mary Jane at Promontory Point, June 1944.

(Left) Jo, a United Airlines Stewardess at Promontory Point, September 6, 1945. (Right) Promontory Point, September 7,1941.
Photograph: Charles W. Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

Left: Jo, a United Airlines flight attendant at Promontory Point, September 6, 1945. Right: Promontory Point, Sept 7, 1941.

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Doris an American Airlines stewardess at Promontory Point, June 27, 1941.
Photograph: Charles W. Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

Doris, an American Airlines flight attendant at Promontory Point, June 27, 1941.

(Left) Maria at Promontory Point, September 3, 1949. (Right) A girl walks atop the Promontory rocks August  24, 1941.
Photograph: Charles W. Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

Left: Maria at Promontory Point, Sept 3, 1949. Right: A girl walks atop the Promontory rocks, Aug 24, 1941.

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Three girls and a boy form spokes of wheel at Promontory Point, July 1941.
Photograph: Charles W. Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

Three girls and a boy form spokes of a wheel at Promontory Point, July 1941.

Eunice at Promontory Point, August 15, 1942.
Photograph: Charles W. Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

Eunice at Promontory Point, Aug 15, 1942.

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Promontory Point July 5, 1945.
Photograph: Charles W. Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

Promontory Point, July 5, 1945

A rare self-portrait of the photographer Charles W. Cushman in Sep. 13; 1949.
Photograph: Charles W. Cushman Collection: Indiana University Archives

A rare self-portrait of the photographer Charles W. Cushman in September 13, 1949.

Camera

Charles Cushman was an obsessive and meticulous amateur photographer who spent his lifetime diligently documenting the world around him. His collection of 14,400 color Kodachrome slides, shot from September 3, 1938 to April 20, 1969, was left to the University of Indiana, where it was painstakingly archived. His travel photography was published in the book The Day in Its Color: Charles Cushman's Photographic Journey Through a Vanishing America, but there are thousands more photos to pour through.

We particularly love the colors in his photos of sunbathing beauties at Hyde Park's Promontory Point, which he shot from 1941–1949. Cushman often pointed his camera at Chicago, photographing everything from steel mills to museums, but with summer upon us we were seduced by his collection of sunbathers.

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