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Kaufman’s Brooklyn: Three photos of ‘A medley of bridges’

July 15, 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:

I’ve called this week’s display “A medley of bridges.” Bridges hold an important place in the progression of New York City’s infrastructural history, with the island of Manhattan located at the center of the growing city. Six major bridges now encircle Manhattan. Several smaller ones span the Harlem River, connecting Manhattan to the Bronx.

The first bridge that connected surrounding areas to Manhattan was the Brooklyn Bridge, which opened in 1883. Three more went up from 1903 to 1909, and the last two were built in the 1930s. Three of the six connect Manhattan with Brooklyn, providing both travel convenience and beauty. They are also the only New York bridges that ever provided rail transit. (There are also four tunnels, one linking Manhattan with Brooklyn, one with Queens and two with New Jersey.)

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

Today’s photos:

Today’s photos feature bridges shown from varied perspectives, each with a different feel.

Two women, two bridges, undated

The Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, seen from this perspective, provide an even more elegant feel than usual. The two women, with a bit of an unusual look to the modern eye, add another level of grace and style.


Size and strength, February 12, 1948

This close look at one of the towers of the Manhattan Bridge is an image of power and enormity, in contrast to the gentle look of the previous photo. This is not a perspective we get to take in very often; we can only look from a distance or glance as we drive by. Bridge walking is the only real way to appreciate, firsthand, how magnificent these structures are.


This is not a circus, June 11, 1936

It’s also not a stunt or a public display of any kind. These are New York City firefighters testing new equipment. The ladders rise, with their human cargo, 85 feet in 20 seconds. They cost the city $13,400 each in the middle of the Depression; try finding any new vehicle for that today. Still, after gawking at the impressive machinery, you notice a bridge in the background — the Queensboro Bridge in this case — and again, even from such a distance, the bridge adds an extra dimension to the 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 collection 11: Photos of ‘A medley of bridges’

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