Brooklyn Boro

Kaufman’s Brooklyn: Eight photos from the ‘Variety’ collection

October 1, 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 been displaying a lot of pictures each week for the past couple of months. This week will be no exception. But many weeks have not had much variety. Last week is certainly the best example of that: over 40 portraits of women, mostly from the same time period and with a similar look. (I hope you found interesting variety in the subtleties of their faces, bearings, expressions; that was my intent.)

This week I will add variety to the quantity. Rather than a single theme for the week, I have a number of different categories, usually just one per day, but sometimes even some variation within a day. I hope the variety will add to the spice of life for you this week.

Today’s photos:

Today is one of the days I mentioned in my Introduction for the week: miscellaneous. Interesting, odd, beautiful – whatever. Just no common theme.

Parking lot, unidentified, undated

No information, but location and date don’t matter much. Just a good place for a hard-to-miss ad for car insurance.


Card players and spy: Two kinds of fun, c. 1936

The top picture, of the boys playing cards, was shown in the “Having Fun” collection, back on May 22. But I couldn’t show the second picture without the first one as a reminder of what’s going on. I had long loved that shot of the kids at cards, but I didn’t discover the spy below until pretty recently.

What’s he doing? It’s hard to cheat from that angle. There’s no place further to go. Eavesdropping? About to scream “BOO!”? Probably, like a young monkey with time on his hands, just doing some recreational climbing.


Everybody’s idea of fun: Dentist at Industrial Home for the Blind, 1936

This scene looks like it might be more unpleasant for the patient than usual. 1930s equipment is surely crude by today’s standards. The patient’s face seems to be wrapped in a cloth. There’s not much light on him. But whatever the procedure or the process, the institution was far ahead of its time in providing dental care to its residents. Still, I hope the gas canisters are doing their job.


All babies are special, this one maybe more than most: Lebanon Hospital, c. 1942

There’s a bond for this newborn showing in the first picture. That seems a bit extra. I can’t quite make out the amount on the bond. But the line-up of photographers in the second picture is extraordinary … and my father was also there to record the scene.


Roof work among the beams: Piping Rock Club, Nov. 28, 1961

The Piping Rock Club is an exclusive golf and country club in Locust Valley, NY, on Long Island’s north shore. I don’t know any more than we can see about the work that’s being done here. The club is still there, and still so exclusive that its website shows almost no photos of buildings or grounds.

But, as with many others, the geometry, the perspective, the clarity and even the mystery are what make it work for me.


Diver, unidentified, c.1935

The only information on the envelope holding this glass negative is “Diver, Deep Sea.” It doesn’t look too deep to me, judging by both the location and the gear. But who am I to argue? The intriguingly unfamiliar scene is the story.

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 collections 22 and 23: Photos from the ‘Variety’ collection

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