City Journal

Photographs by David Brabyn
Surfing NYC
The city’s surprising subculture of wave riders
Summer 2013

Think “surfing,” and Oahu and Malibu come more quickly to mind than New York City. Yet just 30 miles or so from midtown Manhattan, in Queens’s Far Rockaway neighborhood, urban wave riders tame six- to nine-foot swells and have given birth to a vibrant surfing community boasting boutique shops, popular competitions, and even a film festival. Thomas Wolfe famously described New York as a “magnificent jewel” in a perfect setting of earth and stars and—he didn’t forget to add—sea. That’s a depiction that the city’s thousands of surfers would agree with.

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