Brooklyn Boro

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

July 29, 2020 Phil Kaufman

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.”

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

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, and for the rest of the week, we’ll take a look at some interesting “older” buildings — buildings that were already old when these pictures were taken. In most cases, I have been unable to find anything but the most basic information about them, but I find the buildings and scenes interesting in their own right, and I hope you do too.



Old and expendable: Anonymous apartment buildings, c. 1935

These two buildings look fairly reasonable from the outside, at a distance. But they must have had substantial problems on closer inspection. Both were slated for demolition as part of the city Housing Authority’s “Slum Clearance” program. The white sign on the first image says as much, as did the note my father wrote on the envelope. Even with street signs visible in both scenes, I can’t get enough resolution to determine either location.


Neither handsome nor brand new: YMHA, YWHA, c. 1940

Yesterday’s photo named “Handsome and brand new” showed the building that replaced the corner location across the street in this picture. The “old” Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association facility shown here was small and in poor condition. In fact, it may be another building slated for demolition; I can’t read the signs on it, but it looks empty and decrepit. Though this wide image is more interesting – showing the elevated tracks above, the children playing in the water on the right, the vacant lot and the cobblestones – I wish I had a closer view of the building.

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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  1. Andrew Porter

    The building in the first photo was at the corner of Clinton Street and Atlantic Avenue, and was notable for being the first purpose-built apartment building in Brooklyn, erected in 1841. Torn down and replaced by a deco apartment building given the address 200 Clinton Street, still there. Note the corner of the building at far right, which you can see in both the 1940 tax photo, and Kaufman’s photo: