I love this casually posed group! They had their photo taken at a studio near the lake Hopatcong in New Jersey, sometime in the warmer months of 1904. The original orange sleeve came with it and is falling apart, but at least it has the name of the lake stamped on and the date in pencil.
These dapper friends decided to all pose with coats off and sitting on the wood floor, so the ones in the back were on their knees!
What’s funny too is the one in the middle decided to roll up his trousers’ hems, revealing some leg with the socks and sock garters (oh la la! lol). His pal with the cigar hanging off his mouth is also showing his socks. Because they’re without coats we see the sleeve garters, and the mixes of patterns on their shirts, ties and braces.
And of course, the hats and smiles. Such a great group portrait!
They give off the vibe of office workers (‘White Collars’ – guess that’s where the expression comes from). Maybe New Yorkers on a fun trip out of the city, the lake was a hot destination and just 80 minute from N.Y by train.
A bit on the lake and its visitors:
The single most important factor in Lake Hopatcong’s growth as a resort was the construction of the Hotel Breslin completed in 1887. This hotel’s construction by a group of wealthy and influential individuals (including Garrett Hobart, who later served as Vice President of the United States under President McKinley) gave Lake Hopatcong instant credibility as a resort. As Gustave Kobbe noted in his New Jersey guidebook of 1890, “The Hotel Breslin gave to Hopatcong its first decided ‘boom,’ for it brought to the Lake the element of wealth and fashion, in the wake of which everything else follows.”
At the same time that the Lake was becoming a large hotel resort, other development was also occurring. Many early visitors camped at the Lake or built crude cottages. Wealthy individuals also were learning of the Lake and building Victorian “cottages,” including an entire millionaire’s community around the grand Breslin Hotel in Mount Arlington.
As with any “hot” resort, Lake Hopatcong was a magnet for many of the “rich and famous” of the day. The most famous female actress of her era, Lotta Crabtree, had a home built here in the 1880’s. Hudson Maxim, noted scientist and inventor, came here at the turn of the century and built a large estate in the Borough of Hopatcong. During the heyday of Vaudeville and Burlesque, the Lake became a favorite rest stop for performers during the summer when most theaters closed. Bud Abbot, Bert Lahr, and Milton Berle were among the many show business people to spend considerable time at the Lake.