Performers of the Zoro Garden nudist colony in 1935. California State Archives

The nudist colony of San Diego

People paid 25 cents to watch actors pose as “nudists” at San Diego’s Balboa Park in 1935.

Yes, it was controversial.

The Zoro Garden nudist colony was an attraction at the 1935-36 Pacific International Exposition designed to demonstrate the ideals of the “natural outdoor life.” The public was invited to watch topless women and bearded men in loincloths sun themselves, play games, and perform a quasi-religious rituals to the Sun God. Cheapskates peeked through holes in the fence.

Despite protests, the outdoor attraction became the exposition’s most lucrative. Today, the Zoro Garden is home to free spirits of another kind: butterflies.

Culture Trip | Atlas Obscura

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