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

July 16, 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 pictures give you a look at three bridges at a distance and the last close-up of the week.

A normal day on the job, February 12, 1948

This does not look like a normal work day for most of us. It might appeal to the adventurous, but notice that this is the middle of February, high up where the cold wind blows. I hope my father enjoyed the day in spite of the calendar, because he certainly left a bunch of “cool” shots (sorry).


Tricky comparison, up high, undated


Tricky comparison, down low, undated

These two pictures are each attractive and evocative in their own way, mixing bridges, river and buildings in different measures. They’re also hard to figure out. At first glance they seem quite different. The “down low” picture shows the familiar Manhattan Bridge nearby and, in its only sighting this week, the Williamsburg Bridge farther north. The high view shows only the Brooklyn Bridge, looking pretty far away.

How could that be? The gazebo – straight ahead in one picture, down below in the other – suggested that the pictures were taken from the same building. I couldn’t understand how the Manhattan Bridge could look so much closer than the Brooklyn Bridge.

For the second time in as many weeks, credit goes to relatives. My cousin Diane and her husband Larry, with their combined lifetimes of Brooklyn knowledge and painstaking care and research, figured it out. Skipping the details, the pictures were actually taken from different buildings, near to each other but some distance apart. The different perspectives explain the distance problem. The Brooklyn Bridge is shown from higher up, on the Manhattan side of the span and from a perch a bit further from the river; the Manhattan Bridge is seen straight on at the Brooklyn side of the river.

If you want the full story, let me know at [email protected] and I’ll send the long and precise email that my cousins sent to me.

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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