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Published on Mar 2, 2011
East Side Urchins Bathing in a Fountain October 30, 1903. Edison Manufacturing Co. Directed by Edwin S. Porter
"It's da Cops! Cheese it!!" This is one in a series of films done by Edwin S. Porter for Edison Studios in which he documented the city's ghetto life. While many of the films produced were 'actualities' of spontaneous scenes, there are some like this one which were staged specifically for the camera. When not hamming it up for a moving picture, chances are pretty good some of these same kids were braving summer swims in the East River. -TR
Original Edison catalog description: Shows a number of boys bathing in a fountain on the East Side (Jacob H. Schiff Fountain in Seward Park). While they are at the height of their amusement, which consists of splashing the bystanders and swimming around, a policeman suddenly appears. There is immediately a wild scramble from the fountain, the boys seizing their clothing and dashing away, buck nekid, through the streets.
Film from the Library of Congress / Reality from 'How the Other Half Lives'