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Kaufman’s Brooklyn: 11 photos from the ‘Variety’ collection

October 7, 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’ll continue this week with a display similar to last week’s. Instead of focusing on a single theme for the whole week, each day has its own focus.

Again, variety is the spice of life.

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

Today’s photos:

Today’s photos are of the Fulton Fish Market as it existed in Lower Manhattan in 1941. It was the Fulton Street location (Front Street through to South Street, between Beekman and Fulton, near today’s South Street Seaport) from 1822 to 2005, when it moved to the Bronx. For most of that time it was the busiest and most important fish market in the eastern U.S.

My father made several visits and took dozens of pictures of the market in the early ’40s. Most of today’s are from January 21, 1941. I’ve tried for a selection that covers the many facets of this fascinating place: indoors/outdoors; busy/empty; daylight/evening (or foggy daytime with the market closed) and views from different angles. The market was certainly more than a large fish store; it was a community with a spectrum of moods.

A father and son collaboration: A close-up created almost 80 years later

I created this close-up image of a building at the fish market, using the magic editing capabilities of Apple’s “Photos” software. I’m both embarrassed and delighted to be able to change the look of these photos in minutes (or seconds!) with virtually no skill. I’ve wondered a thousand times whether my father would be appalled or liberated by the technology that enables this.

I love the way the building looks this way. But I’ve also included the full-view original below for comparison. I love the full view as well.


A father and son collaboration: Full view as taken almost 80 years ago


Another way to see it: A wider view from a few steps away

Instead of focusing on the gap between buildings on the right, a few steps and a turn to the left reveal an angled view of the whole central building and the ghostly Brooklyn Bridge hovering on the left. Another new look.


Same scene, different feel: Busy and bright becomes deserted and dim


Again, the same but very different: Trucks load up, then the day is done

Here the same building is shown from opposite directions. I don’t have a comparison from the same angle, but the point is clear. (The second image was shown as a “Quiet Street” back in April.)


A look inside: Fish on display, plenty more in stock


With the city behind: As seen from the river’s edge

The first of these views combines two skyscrapers, two almost-hidden boats beneath the big buildings, dappled sun on the water and my father’s shadow – which I decided not to edit out.

The second is brighter, busier, denser, showing the city surrounding and closing in on a different stretch of the market. Both views let you see the context for this iconic market which otherwise could feel like a world of its own.

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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