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
Art in Progress: 15th Anniversary Exhibitions: Photography
May 24–September 17, 1944
At MoMA, in NYC.
“FELLIG, Arthur (Weegee). American, born Austria 1900.
Brooklyn School Children See Gambler Murdered in Street. (225.42)
Oct. 8, 1941. Given anonymously.
*Tenement Fire, Brooklyn. Dec.14,1939. ILL. p.158. (96.43)
My Man, N.Y.C. 1941. (95.43)
Woman Shot from Can[n]on, N.Y.C. 1943. (696.43)
Above 3 prints Purchase Fund.
Opening Night at the Opera, N.Y.C.1944. Given anonymously.
All info and images from moma.org
Two years in a row: 1943, 1944 at MoMA, in NYC…
PM, October 12, 1944
“Explanation: Sinatra Opened at the Paramount”
“Frank Sinatra began an engagement at the Paramount Theater here yesterday. He reached the theater at 6 a.m. yesterday, but by that time, a long line – about 1,000 kids, mostly bobby sox girls – had already been waiting for hours in the chill air of morning. While they waited and Sinatra rehearsed inside the empty theater with Raymond Paige and his orchestra. Rehearsal lasted until 8 a.m. and at 8:30, the doors of the theater were thrown open to the madly rushing, crowding, shoving, elbowing followers of The Voice. They had been playing cards, eating sandwiches from paper bags, and drinking hot coffee from thermos bottles while they waited. Some of the girls refused to have their pictures taken, covered their faces with their hands. They were playing hookey from school and jobs, and planned to stay in the Paramount all day and all night to see each of Sinatra’s five appearances on stage.”
“While he rehearsed and his followers waited, weary-eyed Sinatra drank milk, learned his cues, went through his paces at the mike with out singing, relaxed as much as he could.”
“Outside, meanwhile, the lines grew longer as the Bobby Sox Brigade converged on 43d St. and Broadway. At 7 a.m., when this picture was made, the line extended halfway to Eighth Ave.”
“Although 25 City policemen were on duty to keep the kids in order, special New York guards had their hands full keeping the entrance to the Times building on 43d St. clear.”
“After the doors were thrown open at 8:30, and the kids had been seated, and the feature picture had been run (during which the kids screamed “We want Frankie”), Sinatra brought ecstasy…”
“…to his legion of patient admirers. Photos by Weegee, PM”
PM, October 13, 1944
‘Sunday, Monday and Always’
These pictures were taken yesterday inside the Paramount Theater where Frank Sinatra was in the second day of a personal appearance engagement. Enough said, we think. Photos by Weegee, PM“
New York Herald Tribune, February 28, 1944 (Photo by Weegee)
“Fire Destroys ‘the World’s Largest Scenic Railway’ at Coney Island”
Firemen fighting the four-alarm fire which razed the Thompson Scenic Railway late Saturday Night. Minor damage was done to concessions in adjacent Luna Park and to ties of the B.M.T. elevated tracks, causing the rerouting of all trains on four lines.”
Daily Mirror, February 28, 1944 (Mirror Photo, presumably not by Weegee)
“FOUR-ALARMER IN CONEY ISLAND. Hundreds of firemen, coast guardsmen and wardens were called out to combat a spectacular week-end fire which reduced to these ruins Coney Island’s Scenic Railway, called the oldest and largest amusement device in U.S. Unused Luna Park property and adjoining concessions were damaged. The orgin of the blaze is unknown.”
New York Times, February 28, 1944 (Associated Press, presumably not Weegee)
“Coney Island Scenic Railway After it Was Gutted by Flames
The L.A. Thompson landmark – called one of the oldest and largest amusement devices of its kind in the country – was destroyed by fire on Saturday night. It is adjacent to famed Luna Park and four alarms were turned in before the blaze was under control.”
PM, February 28, 1944, (PM Photo by Weegee)
“Plug for Wimpy by Weegee
An auxiliary fireman handing coffee to rain-soaked firefighters at the Thompson Scenic Railway fire at Coney Island yesterday poses long enough to give Weegee this picture.”
(It’s fascinating that while photographing the tragedy of a large fire at Coney Island, Weegee also made this funny foto of a coffee-toting fire-buff goofing around with Wimpy the hamburg-loving cartoon character and friend of Popeye. And that this is the photo that PM published of the fire…)
Irrelevant: Popeye, Amusement Park (1947), from youtube – here… “It’s marvelous…”
Speaking of Frank Pape… we made these photos a few years ago of the Daily News on microfilm at NYPL… There’s no direct Weegee involvement in these pages…
The Game That Cost A Life
… “I said, ‘Wanna’ play tie-up?’ The kid said, ‘Okay.’ I took him to the cellar and got rope.'” Seemingly unmoved, 16-year old Frank Pape stares at the ropes he used in “commando” strangling of 4-year-old Billy Drach as he answers questions of Bronx Assistant District Attorney Sylvester Ryan after confession yesterday. The boy told how he took the Drach lad to the basement of 825 Eagle Ave., Bronx and there reenacted a scene from a movie he had just witnessed…”
New York Daily News, November 10, 1944
[Perhaps the scene of the crime is a vacant lot according to Google.]