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

July 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:

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:

Three scenes of amusement.

Dexter Fellows visits old friends, 1935

This title comes verbatim from the notes my father left on the envelope with this and other negatives. The name might have been familiar to some people seeing the picture in 1935. Fellows, recently retired, had been a circus fixture since before the start of the 20th century. He was the ultimate “Ballyhoo Man” – a public relations specialist who traveled ahead of the circus to stir up interest and maximize publicity for the big show’s arrival. His role was indispensable, and he was recognized as the best in the business.


Nightfall, September 21, 1936

Here’s the same shot from yesterday, an hour or so later. The lights help clarify things: the ferris wheel and a few other rides, the boardwalk and Surf Avenue. The bird’s eye view is like a map in your head to clarify the layout of the neighborhood.


‘A horse walks into a bar,’ May 26, 1939

Talk about a horse making a wrong turn! (See yesterday’s post.) This one is pulling a whole carriage load into a tight space. Apparently “anything goes” was the norm on a festive day at Steeplechase in the 1930s. It must have been tricky backing out.

The roller rink is empty, but the gent in the top hat is wearing his skates.

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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