Brooklyn Boro

Kaufman’s Brooklyn: Three photos of ‘Buildings: ‘New’ and older’

July 28, 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 theme “Buildings: ‘New’ and older.” Since the photos I’m displaying were taken at least 80 years ago, none of them qualify as new today. But many of them were fairly new at the time these photos were taken. Since these “new” buildings are already old today, the other ones have to be called “older.”

Once past my confusing attempt at accurate language, what remains is a display of interesting Brooklyn buildings from the 1930s. In most cases, the buildings were not incidental or in the background, but were the reason for the photograph. Some were meant for the Eagle, to display an interesting or important new site. Others were for a specific client who wanted a record of their property before or just after rebuilding or relocating. Finally, some shots were taken simply because they appealed to my father, as evidenced by his identifying many as taken on “One Sunday Afternoon.”

Today’s photos:

Today’s pictures present three more “new” buildings. They are smaller and less prominent than the ones displayed yesterday. But being pristine and modern, they were fully appreciated by those who used them, and no doubt a welcome improvement to their surroundings.

Handsome and brand new: New home for Williamsburg YMHA and YWHA, c. 1940

Getting the details right after all these years is not easy. I have envelopes marked “Wmsbg YM-WHA old and new” but the images inside don’t show anything clearly marked as new or that appears new. This, on the other hand, in a nearby envelope with photos of Jewish institutions, looks just right for the description. There’s no doubt that the Jewish Y of Williamsburg changed locations and built new, improved facilities around 1940, and though I didn’t find other images to prove it, this has to be the new building.


Odd mix: Borden wagon at new Church Ave. Post Office, c. 1940

What a horse and buggy wagon from Borden’s Dairy was doing in front of the new Post Office is anybody’s guess. My father did a lot of work for Borden’s over the years, so maybe this was part of some advertising or internal publicity for them. The Post Office, at 2273 Church Ave., is still there, but there hasn’t been a visit from the Borden’s wagon in quite some time.


New York’s airport: Floyd Bennett Field Administration Building, 1935

Until the opening of LaGuardia at the end of the 1930s, Floyd Bennett Field, located at the south end of Flatbush Avenue, was New York City’s only airport. It had some commercial business, as well as activity from the military, Coast Guard, NY police and a number of transatlantic flights.

In 1941 the airfield was purchased from the city by the military and was used for training throughout the war, and post-war into the 1960s. It was finally decommissioned by the Naval Air Reserve in 1970 and was soon converted, along with much surrounding area, into the Gateway National Recreation Area.

This photo shows the field’s administration building, which had been completed a couple of years earlier but was now adorned by recently added roadways and landscaping: just a small part of the major expansion and improvements done to the entire airfield as a New Deal WPA project. The building is still there, now a multi-use facility including a visitor center, arcade, refreshments and offices.

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 13: Photos of ‘Buildings: ‘New’ and older’

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