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Kaufman’s Brooklyn: June 9: Two photos from ‘Not an ordinary day on Brooklyn’s streets’

June 9, 2020 Phil Kaufman
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My father, Irving Kaufman (1910 – 1982), was a professional photographer who started in Brooklyn in the mid 1930s working for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. He captured thousands of images of Brooklyn through the 1950s. I have recently digitized a great many of them. My father’s profile can be found here.

This week’s theme:

Last week we had a look at “An ordinary day on Brooklyn’s streets.” What’s appropriate for this week? “Not an ordinary day on Brooklyn’s streets,” of course.

A timeworn definition of news has it that “Dog bites man” is not news, but “Man bites dog” is. Similarly, ordinary street scenes, like last week’s, generally weren’t newsworthy for the Eagle at the time my father took them. Therefore, he didn’t leave much information about them. This week’s not ordinary scenes, on the other hand, are more likely to be newsworthy, and most of them come with notes that my father sent to the Eagle.

I hope that adds an extra level of interest: the pictures themselves plus their back stories. Just to keep us on our toes, however, there are still a few with little or no information and, because the scenes themselves are unusual, the lack of information is all the more frustrating.

Today’s photos:

In a place the size of Brooklyn, all kinds of things can turn many streets non-ordinary at any given time. Today’s two photos include one type of image you’ve seen before – and that my father seems to have covered for the Eagle a number of times – and another that was a unique scene that made three different streets in Downtown Brooklyn look out of the ordinary the day it was taken.

Familiar scene from above, mid-’30s

I hope you don’t tire of auto wrecks. There will be a couple more this week, just because there were many my father photographed and (when no serious injuries or damage are involved) many of us find them kind of fun to look at. Also, in this case, the view from above is unusual and not often available. With one car on its side and the other stopped by the tree, it’s not obvious how this happened. But several of my father’s auto accident scenes have one of the cars on its side. Either that was the type of shot that was most interesting for publication, or the light weight and perhaps poor design of cars made such rollovers more common back then.


Unfamiliar scene from above, May 1942

This event provided an out-of-the-ordinary look to three busy streets in Downtown Brooklyn. The site is 44 Court Street, right across from Boro Hall. The line extends around two corners, in one direction down Joralemon Street, and in the other direction (not visible here) down Remsen Street. The event is the first day of gas rationing in Brooklyn, and the throng is waiting to get their ration cards. Interestingly, gasoline was rationed not so much to conserve gasoline, but to conserve rubber, which was a critical material in short supply in the U.S. The best way to conserve rubber was to keep tires from wearing down. That could be ensured by limiting driving, which could be done by limiting the availability of gas.

An index of Kaufman’s Brooklyn posts may be found here.

Irving Kaufman’s profile may be found here.

I invite you to submit comments, memories, images of Brooklyn, and especially any additional background information you can supply about the photos posted here to [email protected]. I’d also be glad to supply information about buying prints of any of the images seen here. Many of my father’s images are also available for viewing and purchase at All prints purchased will be the product of professional scanning and editing.

Weekly collection 6: Photos from ‘Not an ordinary day on Brooklyn’s streets’

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1 Comment

  1. Cuenca-curious

    Marvelous, marvelous photos by your father. My only teensy, tiny criticism is that when I click on them, I’d like to see a bigger, higher resolution view … like one is able to on so many other websites. I’m a photographer and I’d like to get a little closer to those fantastic photos. Could the Eagle’s web programmers do this? I think with other photos on the site I have been able to do this in past. But bottom line is: thanks so much for sharing and keep ’em coming!