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Kaufman’s Brooklyn: Eight photos of ‘Parks and recreation’

June 29, 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:

This week’s theme continues from last week’s: “Parks and Recreation.” Summer has arrived and with it, even with the limits necessary in our awful situation, we’ll be getting out to use the parks (very broadly defined) available for many forms of recreation. I’ve got lots of pictures for you of what some of that looked like in Brooklyn long ago.

My father didn’t do a great deal of work with recreational spaces. But enough of it came along so that many dozens of interesting shots accumulated. After posting 20 of them last week, I’ve got 20 more lined up for this week. The scenes this time include water ballet, a traveling circus, and Brooklyn’s iconic combination of Coney Island and Steeplechase.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Today’s photos:

The eight photos for today’s display include scenes from each of the activities I referred to above. I’ll provide whatever specific information I have, but in most cases there’s no need for much more. Just enjoy and maybe get a few ideas for your own activity ahead.

Flying high, summer 1940


I’d say that’s the right angle, summer 1940

I can’t tell you much about these pictures beyond how beautiful they are. The diver may have been a member of the St. George Pool swim team, and this shot may have been taken at the Ostend Beach Pool in Far Rockaway. My technical knowledge of 1940 photography is pretty much non-existent, but I’m amazed that my father was able to catch these dives at perfect moments and with no blurring. Of course the divers’ grace and perfection are more amazing.


Seal family, October 22, 1935


Feeding time? October 22, 1935 

Well, those three seals might be a mother-father-baby. And the crowd might have gathered for feeding time. My father’s notes with these negatives, which were submitted to the Eagle, says the picture “shows part of a huge crowd … watching the antics of the seals, who are the most popular residents of the zoo.”


Concert in the shade, September 9, 1935

A lovely way to spend an afternoon. These people were enjoying a concert version of Bizet’s popular opera “Carmen,” performed by an orchestra that was part of the federal government’s WPA Music Project.

This cozy and cool spot for summer concerts was constructed in 1880 and called the Music Pagoda. It was used heavily for concerts and other performances, but was destroyed by fire in 1968. Rebuilt in 1971, it has been used since for smaller, usually non-musical events like church services.


Waiting for the spring thaw, January 31, 1936 

This houseboat sank near the shore and Sheepshead Bay froze solid around it.


Is it the boat or the cargo that’s “junk?” undated

No information. Nice picture, great name.


Catch the wind, undated

Looks like just the right wind and weather for an outing or a race on Sheepshead Bay. My father loved sailing and had a small boat for many years, smaller and not as sleek as these. I’m sure he enjoyed watching and photographing this scene.

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 collections 9 and 10: Photos of ‘Parks and recreation’

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1 Comment

  1. Barbara Selling

    hi phil… love seeing your dads photos… and the info you write about your knowledge of each one… but most of all what i love, is that your dads legacy lives on, through your efforts. may his name be for a blessing.