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Kaufman’s Brooklyn: Five ‘Construction scenes’

August 4, 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:

Last week’s selections showed a number of Brooklyn’s “new” and “older” buildings. This week I’ll show a group of buildings (or other infrastructure projects) in the making. My father photographed a lot of construction sites for the Eagle in the 30s, and a few other sites for private clients in later years.

Construction sites often draw interest in their own right, regardless of what’s being built. There’s a reason why many urban sites provide windows into the scene so passers-by can have a look. That’s why I think these images will be interesting to you on their own, even the few that are unidentified. But many show work in progress on buildings that are still around and may be familiar to many: the Brooklyn Museum, the Central Library, Brooklyn College, Floyd Bennett Field, schools, a local library, a hospital, etc.

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

Today’s photos:

Today we have two shots of the same construction site, showing progress, and a Brooklyn College building in the works. Then there are two other interesting and mysterious scenes.

Work in progress: Glendale Library, Myrtle Avenue and 73rd Place, September 12 and October 17, 1935

My father’s photos of this soon-to-be library are from about a month apart. Progress has definitely been made, but they’ll have to hurry if they want to get it done before winter.


The skeleton is in place: Brooklyn College Power Plant, March 31, 1936

This shows the status of the Power “House” (as per my father’s note), one of the first buildings rising just five months — winter months at that — after “work got underway” on the “New” Brooklyn College. I think it looks terrific as it is, but in a few months this distinctive sculpture will be just another building.


Busy, busy, undated

There’s some complicated construction going on here. A double-decker elevated train structure looks pretty complex, and the sub-street level infrastructure work beneath it creates an extra engineering challenge. The two big stanchions in the center of the image seem to be temporary extra support for the tracks and trains overhead. This is one of the many scenes that I wish I knew more about.


Broadway Diner, unknown, c. 1935

Infrastructure installation. Miles of this stuff is under all our streets; mind-boggling. Broadway Diner and an Esso station are the only clues about where this was.

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 14: Photos of ‘Construction scenes’

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