Archive

Tag Archives: Naked City


“Heat Wave”; Ethel Waters; Berlin; Columbia (2826-D); 1933


Weegee, Herald Tribune, August 4, 1940

Heat-Wave Nocturne in Downtown New York


Weegee, “Naked City,” 1945


“Heat Wave”; Marilyn Monroe; 20th Century-Fox Orchestra and Chorus; Irving Berlin; RCA Victor (20-6033); 1955


“When My Baby Left Me”; Cootie Williams and his Orchestra; Williams; Vinson; Eddie Vinson; Capitol (266); Publication date: July 19, 1945


The New York Post, July 19, p. 19

Photography

By John Adam Knight

Worth Anyone’s $4
[$4 in July 1945 had the same buying power as $65.48 in June 2022.]

All of this is background for a brief review of a fine new picture book, Weegee’s “Naked City” (Essential Books, 243 pp., $4). This is Weegee at his former best, which means virtually unequaled. Most of these pictures were made before the Museum of Modern Art’s kiss of death took effect, and the purchaser need have little fear of being stuck with serious “art.”

What he will get for his $4 is a collection of grauvre reproductions of about 200 stark almost primitive photographs of death, despair and degeneracy in New York between midnight and morning. Though technically poor photographs, almost every one of them tells a gripping, human story, one of the best reasons I know for the invention of the camera.

The paper shortage denies me the pleasure of describing dozens of these pictures individually. I have space only to urge every one interested to buy the book and learn the lesson that Weegee once knew that honesty, a genuine interest in people – all people – and a recognition of what constitutes human interest in pictures can make any of you nearly as great as Weegee once was.

The New York Post, July 19, p. 19


“Echoes Of Harlem”; Cootie Williams And His Orchestra; Cootie Williams; Duke Ellington; Capitol (266); Publication date: July 19, 1945


“Shorty George”; Count Basie And His Orchestra; Count Basie; Brunswick (80134); Publication date: February 16, 1938


Weegee, Naked City, 1945, pp. 148-149

Shorty, the Bowery cherub, welcomed the New Year… Sophisticated Lady


“So Long, Shorty”; Erskine Hawkins (The Twentieth Century Gabriel) and his Orchestra; Ida James; Wilbur “Shorty” Bascomb; Livingston; Symes; Neiburg; Bluebird (B-11485-B); 1941


Barth, Miles, Weegee’s World, New York: Bullfinch Press, 1997, p.139

Shorty, the Bowery Cherub, New Years Eve at Sammy’s Bar, 1943


“So Long, Shorty (You’ve Got a Long Way to Go)”; Una Mae Carlisle; Barney Young; Bluebird (B-11507-B); Publication date: February 13, 1942


Weegee, Naked City, 1945, p. 148

Shorty, the Bowery cherub, welcomed the New Year…


“Shorty’s Got to Go”; Bill Johnson and his Musical Notes; Bill Johnson; Lucky Millinder; RCA Victor (20-2225-B); 1947


Weegee, Naked City, Cincinnati, Ohio: Zebra Picture Books, 1948

Shorty, the Bowery cherub, welcomes the New Year…



“Shorty George Blues”; Sippie Wallace; Eddie Heywood; Geo. W. Thomas; H. Thomas; Okeh (8106-A); Publication date: October 26, 1923


“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

TRAPPED IN FLAMES MOTHER AND SON DIE

Burn to Death in New York When Flames Destroy Tenement Building

OTHERS ESCAPE IN NIGHT


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

“THEY’RE STILL UP THERE!”

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)

FIREMEN MAKE RESCUES AT FATAL BLAZE

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

WOMAN AND SON PERISH IN FIRE

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

GOVERNMENT ENDS LEPKE TESTIMONY

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


“Sherry Lynn Flip,” by Slam Stewart Trio; Errol Garner; Stewart; Harold West; Publication date: September 7, 1945


Daily Argus, September 7, 1945

…”Naked City,” by Arthur Fellig, is a collection of satiric photographs, showing a cross-section of life in New York…”

“…held on display for one week at the Public Library so that readers may have an opportunity to examine them before they are circulated.”
Daily Argus, September 7, 1945, p.4


“Blue, Brown, and Beige,” by Slam Stewart Trio; Errol Garner; Stewart; Harold West; Publication date: September 7, 1945


Uncle Moses, p. 125


Uncle Moses, p. 134


Uncle Moses; a novel, Sholem Asch (1880-1957), Isaac Goldberg (1887-1938), translator, 1920


“On a Sunday at Coney Island,” Gordon MacRae and the Cheerleaders; Carmen Dragon; Vernon Cross; Jeffrey Curtis, 1951

Celebrating the solstice with a trip to Coney Island in June… (And an early reference to “a naked city…”) “…Everything was permissible; the whole world intermingled.” Weegee, the war-time photographer, filled a centerfold with pictures and words of the “escapist crowd,” made on a Sunday at Coney Island… (Like a Stonehenge for midsummer sweltering city-dwellers…) The spread is a sequel of sorts to the previous years’ successful Coney centerfold: “Yesterday at Coney Island… Temperature 89… They Came Early, Stayed Late.” And a sprinkling of songs released in June 1941; possibly heard on the portable radios playing swing…


“She’s Love Crazy”, Tampa Red, Hudson Whittaker, June 1941

Coney Island Revisited… Pictures and Words by Weegee

I was one of 800,000 people – cops’ estimate – at Coney Island yesterday afternoon. It as an escapist crowd. Portable radios played swing instead of war news. Some planes flew over, but nobody paid much attention.

Most of the people arrived with bathing suits under their street clothes and undressed on the beach. A lot brought their lunches, too, and spread newspapers on sand to eat. It was 87 degrees when I took this picture.

First aid for ripped slacks. I don’t know how Mama happened to bring along her needle and thread, but I didn’t pose the picture. You don’t have to that to get amusing pictures at Coney. I go out every summer to photograph the crowds. They’re always the same – and always different. One difference from 1940 and yesterday was the number of soldiers in uniform on boardwalk looking over the gals on sand below.

Waiting three hours to get a picture of the official first lost child of the season when a man came over to the Park Department attendant with this and and, “Lost child.” Pretty soon his wild-eyed mother came up and took him away. The child was making such a rumpus, and the mother seemed so excited about it all, that I didn’t want to bother them to ask their names and address. PM Photos by Weegee

PM, June 9, 1941, pp. 16-17


“Sixth Avenue Express”, Pete Johnson and Albert Ammons, June 1941


“Rock Me Mama,” Art Tatum And His Band, Joe Turner, Jones, June 1941


“Lonesome Graveyard”, Art Tatum and His Band, Joe Turner, Jones, Williams, June 1941


PM, March 2, 1941


Weegee (1899-1968) and Mary Margaret McBride (1899-1976), July 1945

A picture with somebody in it sells better than a picture of a lifeless object. So Weegee sometimes puts himself in his picture-shooting them by “remote control.” Here he is posing as a “curious passerby” looking at the body of a Brooklyn murder victim found in t trunk near the Gowanus Canal.

Weegee makes friends readily. On a Chinatown assignment, he got this New Year’s lucky wish from a Chinese girl. He has a photo of her painting ot pinned above his bed (picture on next page). It is characteristic of him to have his picture taken this way. The cigar is standard equipment.

Weegee’s room shows his devotion to his job. On top of his regular radio is a police short-wave radio and a loudspeaker attached to it dangles over his bed. On the floor are his special “murder shoes” – at left – and his “snow shoes.” He keeps his “fire shoes” in his car. The wall decorations are examples of his work and certificates of awards for prize-winning pictures. The cardboard boxes at the extreme right are his disorderly “files.” The typewriter is his latest acquisition. He has recently taken up writing – a field in which he shows rather starltinh talent. We don’t know what the Flit is for.

PM, March 9, 1941, pp. 50-51

Today we are celebrating the birth of Weegee!



Weegee, Naked City, 1945


PM, May 31, 1942, pp.8-9 (photo by Weegee)

Weegee, free-lance news photographer who drives around New York in search of pictures, got so many dirty looks during the first two weeks of gas rationing that he had a sign painter letter this card for the rack that used to hold his front license plate. Like one out of every 10 motorists in the East, Weegee has an X card.
PM, May 31, 1942, p.8


Extra! Weegee!, p. 19

Shrinking Violet Explains

New York – The envious looks of gasless former “Sunday Drivers” pierced the tender epidermis of “Weegee” noted New York freelance photographer as he toured the city while on the job today. To get rid of that uncomfortable feeling, “Weegee” mounted this explanation of gasoline expenditure on the front of his machine and immediately felt much better.
Credit Line (ACME) 5-24-42

Extra! Weegee!, p. 19


Screenshot, whitney.org


We’re the Sunday Drivers, Billy Murray’s Trio (Carl Mathieu, Monroe Silver and Murray), 1927

Newspaper PM, article about Murder Inc. member or associate
PM, May 23, 1941, p. 9

“Up From the Slums, or How Young Knadles Nitzberg Made His Nark” by John Kobler

PM newspaper, Weegee photo of kids on fire escape
PM, May 23, 1941, p. 23

Record of a New York Day

“The hot weather last night took Weegee, the photographer, to the Lower East Side, where he found these children sleeping on a tenement fire escape at Irving and Rivington Streets. Weegee says he gave the kids $2 for ice cream, but their father took charge of the dough.”

Weegee's book Naked City
Weegee, Naked City, pp. 22-23

Tenement Penthouse

But the other fire escape is somewhat overcrowded… its not so bad sleeping that way… except when it starts to rain… then it’s back to the stuffy tenement rooms.”

[$2 had the same buying power as $38.15 in April 2021.]


Tenement Symphony,” Larry Clinton’s Bluebird Orch.; Kuller; Golden; Borne; Peggy Mann and Butch Stone, 1941


PM, May 23, 1941, p. 13 (photo by Gene Badger)

A Hot-Weather Fashion Preview by the Dead End Kids
Scene: East River. Time 3 p.m. Temperature: 90.7.


Weegee, Naked City, 1945, pp. 148-149

Shorty, the Bowery cherub, welcomed the New Year…


“Shorty, the Bowery Cherub, New Years Eve at Sammy’s Bar,” 1943
Barth, Miles, Weegee’s World, New York: Bullfinch Press, 1997, p.139


“Shorty, the Bowery cherub, welcomed the New Year…”
Weegee, Naked City, New York: Essential Books, 1945, p. 148


“Shorty, the Bowery cherub, welcomes the New Year…”
Weegee, Naked City, Cincinnati, Ohio: Zebra Picture Books, 1948