Tag Archives: fire

“Blues in the Groove”; Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra; Durham”; Vocalion (5395); Publication date: December 14, 1939

Batavia Daily News, December 14, 1939, p.1


Burn to Death in New York When Flames Destroy Tenement Building


The New York Post, December 14, 1939 (Photo by Irving Haberman)


Mrs. Henrietta Torres and her daughter, Ada, photographed just after they were rescued from a two-alarm fire at 41 Bartlett Street, Brooklyn, early today. Mrs. Ramona Malave and her son, Edward, relatives of Mrs, Torres, were brought down later – dead.

“Uptown Blues”; Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra; Lunceford; Columbia (30232); Publication date: December 14, 1939

The New York Sun, December 14, 1939 (Photo by Irving Haberman)


A scene at 41 Bartlett street, Brooklyn, early today as firemen engaged in rescue work in the four-story tenement house where two persons lost their lives. One of the tenants of an adjoining building is shown near the lower corner of the picture.

The New York Sun, December 14, 1939


Trapped at Window of Their Brooklyn Home

Weegee, Naked City, 1945, pp. 74-75

I Cried When I took This Picture

Mother and daughter cry and look up hopelessly as another daughter and her young baby are burning to death in the top floor of the tenement… firemen couldn’t reach them in time… on account of the stairway collapsing.

“Lunceford Special”; Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra; Lunceford; Durham; Gerald Wilson; Willie Smith; Trummy Young; Joe Thomas; Columbia (38338); Publication date: December 14, 1939

The New York Times, December 14, 1939


Completes Its Case as 23d Witness Testifies Against Narcotics Defendant

“It’s Time To Jump and Shout”; Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra; Durham; Vocalion (5430); Publication date: December 14, 1939

A sign across the front of this seven-story loft building near the Brooklyn Bridge instructed firemen to “Simply Add Boiling Water.” However, cold water was all they had, and anyway it seemed to them that it win this case it might prove more effective. AP Wirephoto.
San Francisco Chronicle, December 21, 1943, p.7

Although the water they used was cold, New York firemen fighting a blaze in a seven-story building did their best to follow directions on a sign on the building: “Simply Add Boiling Water.” (A.P. Wirephoto)
The Philadelphia Inquirer, Tuesday Morning, December 21, 1943, p.6

Naked City, 1945, pp.52-53

The surprising thing about New York families, living as they do in such crowded conditions, is that they still manage to crowd in pets like dogs, cats, parrots, which they always try to save at fires. At one fire, I saw a woman running out holding a cardboard box with a couple of snakes inside. I questioned her. (It was none of my business, but I’m curious about people)… she told me she was a dancer who used the snakes in her act…
Naked City, 1945, p.52

Minicam, 1947

The Sign across the center of the building refers to the frankfurters, not the firemen! Weegee put his Speed Graphic with 5 1/4″ lens on a tripod and three No. 3 flashbulbs on extensions. Super Panchro Pres – 1/10 at F:8
Minicam, 1947

Third Avenue El, (3 second excerpt), by Davidson (Carson), 1950

The Eye of Fate

Did New Yorkers look completely different 50 years ago than they do today? Where have those kinds of faces gone?

There is cruelty in Weegee’s flash, but there is also harsh beauty. Sometimes it is the almost abstract beauty of light against dark, as in his photograph of a fire at the Hygrade Frankfurters factory — called “Simply Add Boiling Water.” But sometimes it is the raw beauty of emotion that Weegee captures in his subjects.

The faces themselves can hardly be called beautiful. They seem at first to belong not merely to another time but to another world, as remote from the present as the portrait of a Renaissance pope. It is human flesh, but arranged by a rough, unfamiliar hand. It takes awhile, wandering among Weegee’s photographs, listening to a pair of old men remembering Times Square in 1942, to realize that an old-fashioned face still lurks in each of us, if only a Weegee were there to see it when it surfaced.
The New York Times, December 5, 1997, p.30

PM, March 2, 1943

“When fire swept the five-story loft building at 372 E. Houston St., Manhattan, the policeman, above, rescued these two kittens from a hallway. Later he gave them to Miss Sally Strumfeld, 218 Delancey St., who promised to give them a good home. Some small manufacturing firms and the Congregation Israel Anscheigal Icie Minhagsford occupy the Houston St. building. Holy scrolls were carried out by members of the congregation.” PM Photo by Weegee

Weegee, Naked City, 1945, pp. 60-61

Daily News, January 27, 1941 (Probably Weegee photos.)
Hundreds Cheer Heroic Rescue
Firemen wait anxiously outside loft building at 45 W. 14th St. Smoke pours from windows. Inside a female is in distress. But, ah, Our Hero is on the job. And here he comes, by gosh, (applause) with the Heroine. She’s just a dummy, but she’s a woman. It was a two-alarmer and no one was hurt.”

Great article called:

“How I traced my grandfather’s life from a famous photographer’s image”
by Charles R. Hale

Published on on May 31, 2015.

Of course that famous photographer was Weegee.

The famous photographer’s photo was on page 73 of Naked City.
The PM page and page spread, published on March 8, 1942:
PM, March 8, 1942, pp.2-3

Street Scene: Last Rights After Fire

“Three persons died in a one-alarm fire at a tenement with out fire escapes at 239 W. 16th St. yesterday. Seven other persons were injured. On the street after the bodies were removed, Father G.J. Knoepfel, S.J., pronounced the last rites as ambulance doctor held his hat. Two of the dead were identified as Mrs. Betty Hasara, 22, and her daughter Lucille, 8 months. The other body was too badly burned for identification. Two men were rescued from ladders; two women carrying children jumped from second-floor windows. Police are investigating the fire, which apparently started on the first floor and swept through the roof. Flames were 40 feet high when firemen arrived. Other fires yesterday took two lives in Brooklyn.
PM Photo by Weegee

We published this blog post on March 8, 2013:
Weegee Daily… March 8, 1942… Street Scene: Last Rights After Fire…

A few related articles:
St. Petersburg Times, 03/08/1942

Daily Argus, 03/07/1942

Syracuse Herald Journal, 03/08/1942

A few contemporary views, Weegee Daily, March 9, 2013:

IMG_7775 copy

IMG_7782 copy

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.”

Weegee, Unknown Weegee, February 28, 1944, p. 40 (Photo by Weegee)

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…)

Weegee’s People, 1946

PM, October 12, 1943
E. 37th St. Scandal
Naked as the day her creator painted her on canvas, this beautiful thing leaves 167 E. 37th St. during a fire there yesterday. Several other paintings were rescued from the flames.”

(This is an obscure one, don’t think this is in too many catalogue raisonnés.)
reliable thrift shopz
Reliable Thrift Shop, 760 2nd Ave.
167 e37thst1z
167 e 37th stz
167 E. 37th St.

PM Newspaper 1941
PM Daily, March 19, 1941, Vol. I, No. 196, p. 32
Tenement Fire On Lower East Side Drives 50 Families Into Cold
“Down in one of New York’s poorest districts, half a hundred families are crowded into an old house at 90 Stanton St. Fire started in an adjacent tenement, was sucked through the air shafts by the high wind, almost smothering all of those who lived there. Here is a rescue.”
Photo by Weegee

PM Newspaper 1941

Weegee Daily, March 19, 2014
No Fire On Lower East Side… Sun Sets on Lower East Side…
An adjacent building is no tenement… Looks like the rat trap in the lower right corner is still there… (“No Beggars or Peddlers” a sign in 1941 says… “Notice: No Loitering, No Peddling, No Soliciting, Allowed in this Building” a sign in 2014 says…)
One of the best PM back covers…

Our March 19, 2013 Weegee Daily post is here…
Photo by Ceegee

PM Daily, Vol. 3, January 27, 1941, No. 194, p. 8
Blaze Makes 200 Homeless, Kills One and Injures Seven
A four-alarm fire swept the upper floors of the six-story apartment house at 552 Riverside Dr., near Claremont Inn, during snow storm early yesterday morning. By the time the fierce blaze was brought under control, 200 people were homeless, one tenant had been suffocated, another was cut by glass, and six firemen were hurt.
Many of those forced to the street in scanty attire were students at the nearby Juilliard School of Music. Tenants in nearby buildings sheltered many of the homeless. A tailor around the corner on Tiemann Pl. converted his shop into a refuge, and 60 of the younger tenants were taken to Knickerbocker Hospital [Founded in 1862; 70 Convent Av., Manhattan, now apartments – according to wikipedia] for the night. The Red Cross precinct disaster service swung into action, supplying clothes and funds for those who needed them.

When the flames got to work on the metal cornice it burned with this blowtorch effect, the glow being visible across the Hudson.

Tenants got off the upper fire escapes just before they were enveloped by flames. Cause of he fire was not determined.

This girl musician is laughing hysterically. She saved her precious violin, but dashed to the street in nightgown and without shoes.

PM Photos by Weegee

Weegee Daily, January 27, 2013
No Fire Yesterday or Today… The building is pet friendly…

(Noir-ish lighting ;-)
Perhaps coincidentally, currently there is a sixth floor apartment available, for sale, for $369,000. From a real estate website: the building was built in 1910; the building has 68 units, 6 floors, a live-in super, common court yard, bike storage, storage, fitness center and central laundry room. The building is pet friendly. 60 years ago today, it’s very likely that this apartment was damaged in the above fire…
Weegee Daily Photos by Ceegee

Weegee Daily Map!



(To be continued…)