Weegee calls this his favorite photo. It was made at dawn recently on Manhattan’s Lower East Side during a tenement house fire. ‘The couple on the sidewalk,’ Weegee told us, ‘are watching the fire and hoping their belongings will not be burned. That is, the ones which the man had to leave behind.’ What happens to New Yorkers when they’re burned out of their homes? Well, the Emergency Welfare Division of the Department of Welfare takes them under its wing; finds temporary quarters for them in hotels, rooming houses or the Municipal Lodging House; helps them find new permanent homes; provides emergency food, clothing and even money for expenses. Families with very low incomes and those on relief get replacements of destroyed clothing and furniture free of charge. Clothing and blankets are kept in a Division warehouse and are rushed to citizens whom fire has forced to jump out of bed and flee into the cold night.” PM, April 23, 1944, pp.m5
“How these pictures were made.
SALVAGE from a tenement house fire is a typical Weegee shot. He says: “The other photogs on the job thought I was nuts to turn my camera on the spectators instead of the fire – but of all the pix I’ve made, I like this the best.” Made with a 4×5″ news camera, fast pan film, one flash bulb, in 1/200th of a secons at f/16.”
“A couple driven out from the burning tenement… I don’t know their names… but I did hear someone call him ‘Pincus’… so here they are right across the street from their burning tenement… it looks like Pincus had time to grab a woman’s dress… his best coat… but minus the pants…” Naked City, 1945, p. 71