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

June 30, 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.

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Today’s photos: 

Today’s pictures provide a sampling of three different venues: a boat on the bay, a cage at the zoo and a suspended diver above a pool.

Up tempo, August 5, 1947

Popular bandleader Guy Lombardo was apparently a speedboat enthusiast. He’s the one working on the engine. The name of the boat, which is not fully visible, was “Tempo VI.” I don’t know if the previous five Tempos were each replaced for bigger and better models or if some met an inglorious end from adventurous handling.

You can see what looks like a blurry movie camera in the upper left. There were at least five photographers on the dock documenting the event. Lombardo wasn’t that popular; he must have been doing something special that day to attract so much coverage. I have a couple of shots of him out on the water, apparently at a high speed, but there’s not much action from a distance in a still photograph; it’s more interesting to show the boat and its captain up close.


Close quarters, March 12, 1937

Though we still have wild animals in unnatural and limited environments in today’s zoos, we have changed their housing and treatment considerably since 1937. These two leopards are obviously boxed in with pitifully little room to roam. Hopefully they had an outdoor option available through a door that we don’t see here. At least their cage is getting a power-wash cleaning.


Up close and still with the right angle, Summer 1940

This is a blow-up of the picture displayed yesterday that showed this dive with a much wider view. The close look here shows so much more clearly how perfect the form is, and how well-captured the image is.

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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