All photos made about 15-30 minutes and 71 years after and at the approximate location of where the photo “The Critic” was made…
From The New Yorker’s Photo Booth, November 10, 2014:
In last week’s issue of the magazine, Tad Friend spoke to Dan Gilroy about his new film, “Nightcrawler,” in which Jake Gyllenhaal plays a man who sells footage of violent crimes to a Los Angeles TV station. Gilroy told Friend that he sees the character as a version of the photographer Weegee, who captured crime scenes and other jarring late-night incidents in New York in the nineteen-thirties and forties.
Weegee, whose real name was Arthur Fellig, lived across the street from a police headquarters, in Manhattan. He listened to his police scanner while lying in bed at night, and was known to arrive on the scene before the police did. After photographing incidents in what he referred to as “Rembrandt lighting” (“Even a drunk must be a masterpiece,” he once said of his approach), he would develop the film in a makeshift darkroom in the trunk of his car. His grim (and, at times, satirical) images—which were often the only photographic accounts of these after-hours occurrences—were widely published in New York papers, and continue to be exhibited today.
The New Yorker’s Photo Booth, November 10, 2014
Several of the titles and dates in the New Yorker’s Photo Booth post are inaccurate, perhaps their famous fact checkers do not check on-line material, here are two corrections:
“Out of the river,” February 24, 1942 (Variant published in PM with the caption: “At 9 last night, the car, a shiny, black Buick, with Rhode Island license plates, was hoisted out of the [Harlem] river by a tug. Body of a Negro (feet are visible) was found in the car. Police Sgt. William Wilson eye witnessed accident.”)
All images are screen shots from The New Yorker’s Photo Booth, November 10, 2014
(We still haven’t seen any evidence proving the existence of a “makeshift darkroom in the trunk of his car.” It’s funny that if the theme of “The Original Nightcrawler” and the “Rembrandt Lighting” pieces is late-night incidents, that only two or three of the twelve photos were made, or possibly made, after 9 PM. A few were made during day (or late afternoon) light and a few were made indoors, at an unspecified time… Three or four of these images were published in PM, one was published in the (perhaps) The Daily News and about half were published in “Naked City”…)
Perhaps it’s just the idea of a Weegee, pre-war night-crawling in the noir of a black and white world, (with only a superficial knowledge of his life and work) that is appealing… Perhaps at this moment, Weegee is more of an archetype than a real person…
“The New Yorker did a profile on me. They sent down Joe Mitchell. When the New Yorker does a profile they really do a job. That guy, Joe Mitchell, did everything but come to live with me. (I think he was angling for that, too, but I had no room in my place behind police headquarters.) Mitchell not only had a pencil and a pad of paper, he had an X-ray machine stuck in the back of his head. We saw so much of each oher, that I got to know Mitchell as well as he got to know me. Maybe better.
PM asked me to do a profile on Joe Mitchell… which I did. I out-profiled the profiler. It was, as you might say, tit for tat.”
Weegee by Weegee, pp. 84-85
(Our opinion: Neither profile was ever published. As we understand it, they didn’t get along very well… Wonder if they ever crossed paths, much earlier in their careers, near police headquarters…)
The New Yorker’s Photo Booth
(Inspired by the amazing Turning the Book Wheel Smithsonian Library Tumblr… we thought we would experiment with reanimating and reincarnating a few old Weegee photos…)
PM Daily, January 27, 1941, Vol. 1, No. 159, p. 14
Not London’s Famous No. 10 Downing St., but Manhattan’s very own. Weegee found it in the labyrinth of criss-cross streets known as lower Greenwich Village. If you are looking for a modern hideaway apartment or store and want to say, “I live at 10 Downing Street,” it’s your dish. Take West Side IRT to Sheridan Sq. or take Independent to Washington Sq., bear south to Sixth Ave. and Bleecker St., then look close. The map may help. There are people who have lived in the Village for years and don’t know where it is.
Weegee Daily, January 26, 2013
Not London’s Famous No. 10 Downing St., but Manhattan’s very own. Ceegee found it in the labyrinth of criss-cross streets known as lower Greenwich Village. If you are looking for a coffee shop, bank, restaurant, modern hideaway apartment or store and want to say, “I live at 10 Downing Street,” it’s your dish. Take the 1, Broadway-7th Avenue local to Christopher St./Sheridan Sq. or take the A, B, C, D, E, or F to West 4th St… (The above photo is surprisingly almost an exact match, it’s hard to see as a little JPEG, but the buildings and painted wall sign have barely changed in 62 years…)
From to a popular (un)real estate website: 10 Downing St.: “Built in 1941, this beautiful six-story building is just as charming and unique as it was 70 years ago. With upgrades to the lobby, elevators and many apartments, the city’s most discriminating New Yorkers proudly call 10 Downing Street home.”
And with 700 sq. ft studios renting for $4,000, they may be discriminating, but I wouldn’t be very proud of that rent…”Screen shot of a popular (un)real estate web site.
PM Daily, January 1, 1942, p. 17
…The Celebrating Reached Over to 5th Avenue.
A 5th Ave. bus looked like this as the year changed over.
PM Photo by Weegee.
Mike Wallace Asks, Simon and Schuster, 1958
A transcript of the “real” interview indicates that perhaps Weegee and Wallace didn’t have a great rapport; didn’t really like each other very much… This printed version is much edited, and is the only interview of about 50, where Wallace asks one question, and the interviewee rambles on for the entire chapter…
Although it’s only a page long, it’s a great page (a few excerpts: edited edits):
WALLACE: Weegee, you used to be the top murder photographer in the country. Why did you quit?
WEEGEE: Murder, Incorporated went out of business. I used to be the official photographer for Murder, Incorporated. I used to have one a night… I advised the boys on taste…
Murder’s not anything anymore. In the old days Murder, Incorporated, had a garage in Brooklyn… they’d teach them the trade, teach them how to shoot and so on. Train ’em like feudal craftsmen. They made a fine art of it. Each murder was better than the one previous.
But murder has gone out of style. It’s a different trend. Everything is organized these days. Instead of fighting with each other, they call a meeting They’re executives. You know what a an executive is? A guy that doesn’t eat in cafeterias. Today, it’s all organization and efficiency. They don’t need an artist like me anymore…. I’ve changed too. I used to go to Sammy’s on the Bowery. I had my own table… The younger generation is making a mockery of the fine art of murder.
Where and when was this photo made?
Wee are still tracing its publication history (it’s funny how some of Weegee’s most famous and iconic photos have ambiguous origins, like Simply Add Boiling Water)…. perhaps the first publication was in PM, November 10, 1946, (in a publication – Weegee’s People – announcement) and perhaps the second publication was as the untitled front endpaper for Weegee’s People, November 1946.
In Louis Stettner’s 1977 Weegee the Famous (pp. 42-43) the title is “Summer, the Lower East Side, 1937. (Of course many of the titles and dates are incorrect in this otherwise great book.)
In the 1982 Weegee’s New York, “Summer on the Lower East Side…” p. 178, is juxtaposed with “… a cop stops the fun, 1937” p. 179.
(The photo on page 179 was made on the Lower East Side, and probably has nothing to do with the photo on page 178, “Summer on the Lower East Side…”) (Of course many of the titles and dates are incorrect in this otherwise great book.)
In Weegee’s World, the photo appears as “Summer, the Lower East Side, ca. 1937” following a few images of people sleeping on fire escapes… and it is the oldest photo in the Lower East Side chapter (or the one with the earliest date), with two photos dated ca. 1939, and one or two from 1940.
Most of the photos in Weegee’s People were made in 1945 and 1946.
Some were published in PM, some might have been published elsewhere, and some were previously unpublished.
Wee don’t think there are any photos in Weegee’s People that were made in the 1930s.
Perhaps the photo was made in the summer of 1946, or the summer of 1945.
And perhaps it was not made in the Lower East Side, (the architecture in the background doesn’t look like the Lower East Side) perhaps it was made around Manhattan Ave. and 107th St.
In a 1946 caption the photo has the title: “Weegee’s People at Manhattan Avenue and 107th St.“
(I don’t think it was made exactly here, Manhattan Ave, and 107th St., but there’s an amusing coincidence, that there’s a guy on a fire hydrant…)
These pictures are from Weegee’s People (Duell, Sloan, Pearce, $4), which will be published on November 11. Weegee says of the new book. “Unlike my previous book, Naked City, this is New York in a happier and gayer mood. I went looking for beauty and found it. My formula – dealing as I do with human beings, and I find them wonderful – leave them alone and let them be themselves – holding hands with love-light in their eyes-sleeping-or merely walking down the street. The trick is to be where people are.” Weegee’s next venture will be movie-making”
PM Weekly, November 10, 1946, Vol. 7, No. 123, pp. m10-11
And so it was…
TO BE CONTINUED!