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Kaufman’s Brooklyn: June 10: Two photos from ‘Not an ordinary day on Brooklyn’s streets’

June 10, 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.

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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:

These two photos are among my favorites because they are about weird as they get. One is an extreme example, especially on a narrow city street, of what is today labeled an “oversize load.” The other is a strange and almost slapstick version of a vehicle mishap on a busy street.

Who scouted this route? October 18, 1935

This driver has the startling challenge of negotiating a turn off of the fairly wide Jackson Avenue onto the fairly narrow 43rd Avenue in Long Island City. The cargo is a 93-foot, 30-ton steel girder which was headed for the under-construction Triborough Bridge, about 2.5 miles away. I wonder how long the trip took, where it started, and how many other girders had to be hauled this way for the new bridge.


What do we do now? undated

Talk about poor design! Look at those “rear” wheels. This was an accident waiting to happen … and happen … and happen again whenever the cargo was loaded disproportionately toward the rear. One would hope that this incident was the first and only of its kind, meaning the driver learned the lesson. But it must have been fun getting those front wheels down.

By the way, this is at Canal Street and the Bowery, just at the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge. In fact, I cheated with both pictures today, using scenes close to Brooklyn, but not quite in it.

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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