Weegee Wednesday: “Drunks Arrested on Bowery”

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Weegee, Drunks arrested on the Bowery, 1943-45 (2395.1993)

Across the street from Elizabeth Tailor, and slightly below Canal, the American Jobbing Co. Inc. once occupied 23 Elizabeth St. (Now there is an awning for and perhaps an entrance to “New York Life.”) A few doors down or slightly south of site of the former American Jobbing Company (sellers of surplus clothing from the Army and Navy) and presently New York Life (whatever that is), in a building built in 1881, at 19 Elizabeth St., is the NYPD’s 5th precinct. (The 5th precinct is on Twitter). The above photo was made in front of the 5th precinct, on Elizabeth St., perhaps the cap-wearing, alleged “drunks” were arrested on the Bowery, which was a short block away.

There was no crime on the Bowery, only false alarms. The boys would get together for a drinking party and pass the bottle around. Feeling sociable, they would pull a fire alarm. When the firemen arrived, the boys would invite them to have a drink. Then the “pie wagon” would come and the boys would get thirty-day vacations in the workhouse. The fire alarm at the corner of the Bowery and Rivington had more false alarms than any other box in the city. Weegee by Weegee, 1961, p. 22.

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Weegee, Naked City, 1945, pp. 172-173

The crop marks and dimension, 6 3/4, above the image, on the top of the photo, suggest that this is the photograph that was used in the making of Naked City, the image in Naked City is a little less than 6 3/4 inches wide. The diagonal line and barely legible letters and number in the upper left corner indicate that the photo was made between 1943-45. What is the mysterious light circle on the sidewalk in the foreground of the photo? I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that it was the photographer’s shadow. A theory: the photo was made at approximately noon and long shadows would have been unavoidable. Weegee dodged his shadow out of the photo and in the production of Naked City the pre-production workers retouched the image to make the unexposed circle barely visible in the book. Spoiler alert: This parenthetical comment might foreshadow a future blog post: Weegee’s Shadow… That’s something to look forward to!

“Hobo” Jack Turner (Ernest Hare), “The Bowery Bums,” Issue date September 24, 1928, from The Internet Archive.

Judging from the stats in this PDF of Compstat crime complaints from the City of New York Police Department, the reduction in crime during the last ten years in the 5th precinct is staggering. Perhaps there was not a lot of crime on the Bowery in 1945, but in 1990, there were 4,476 “crime complaints” and in 2015 there were 943 “crime complaints.” The Bowery is the safest it has been in a long time.

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Ads for American Jobbing Co. in Popular Mechanics, July 1957 and Flying, February 1958

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PS. A few days ago we made a Fansinaflashbulb field trip to “the scene of the crime.” Fortunately we didn’t see any drunks arrested but the black hole or dark circle on the sidewalk in the foreground of the photo might be the photographer’s shadow and was well-used. The original-looking green lights at the entrance to the 5th precinct were on.

Weegee Wednesday is an occasional series exploring, or just enjoying, the life and work of Weegee.

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Soviet Armenia

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USSR in Construction, photo by Kislov (Soyuzphoto), February 1936, No. 2, (2012.13.30)

Comrade Stalin and Elena Abramyan, a worker at the Leninakan [Gyumri] Textile mill. (At the reception of the delegation of the toilers of Soviet Armenia in the Kremlin.)

Soviet Armenia
Soviet Armenia recently completed fifteen years of its existence up to 1920, the life of the Armenian people was a succession of indescribable suffering, enslavement and oppression by innumerable invaders and conquerors. The “Armenian Question,” which formerly occupied the attention of Europe in connection with the persecution of the Armenians, was not and could not be solved by the capitalist world.
The bourgeois nationalist “Dashnak” government which held power in Armenia from 1918 to 1920 was leading the Armenian people directly to degeneration and destruction During the time of Dashnak rule, over one-third of the population of Armenia perished – about 480,00 people. The country sank to the uttermost depths of ruin, poverty and starvation. Only the revolt of the toilers of Armenia against the Dashaks and the establishment of the Soviet power saved a splendid country from inevitable destruction.
At that time, in December 1920, comrade Stalin wrote: “Armenia, tortured and suffering, doomed by the entente and the Dashnaks to hunger, devastation and depopulation, this Armenia, betrayed by all its self-styled friends, has now found salvation in the fact that it has proclaimed itself to be a soviet country… the idea of the Soviet power alone gave Armenia peace and the possibility of national recovery.”
And now fifteen years later, the toilers of Armenia, participating by their peaceful creative labor in the harmonious family of peoples of the great Soviet Union, are reaping the wonderful fruits of their work.
On the 15th anniversary of their Republic, 150,00 shock workers, collective farmers and toilers of Armenia related a moving letter to comrade Stalin what the Armenian people had achieved in this period. A new life, happy and joyous, is being created in the hills and valleys of Armenia. The sun of Socialism has risen over the country in which the blood of many generations of the Armenian people had so long been poured out.
“At last we see the real growth of the national culture of Armenia, which together with all the peoples of the Soviet Union, has been given the opportunity to build up its Socialist culture,” said comrade Molotov to the delegates of the toilers of Armenia.
Henceforth this growth will continue unceasingly. In the towns and villages of Armenia, ever new electric lights are blazing forth. Industry and agriculture are growing more and more, culture is blossoming ever more luxuriantly, and the life of the toilers of the happy Republic is continually becoming better and more joyous. USSR in Construction, February 1936, No. 2, (2012.13.30)

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USSR in Construction, February 1936, No. 2, (2012.13.30)

Where Ararat and Alagez rear their summits to the skies.
Where Lake Sevan extends its waters.
Where foaming streams roar down mountain chasms.

A Land of Ancient Culture

Here lives one of the most ancient peoples of the world – the Armenian. As early as 2,500 years ago, Armenia was mentioned in historical documents. The ancient historians Herodotus and Xenohon wrote of the country of shepherds, of Armenians, of their habits and customs. Situated at the very boundary of Europe and Asia, Armenia was invaded and ravished for many centuries by numerous conquerors who devastated the rich culture of ancient Armenia and destroyed the people of the country. And even at the present day, relics of this ancient culture can be seen in Armenia, silent witnesses to its past history – ancient architecture, sculpture, documents. USSR in Construction, February 1936, No. 2, (2012.13.30)

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USSR in Construction, February 1936, No. 2, (2012.13.30)

In the course of 11 years, the toilers of Armenia have planted 8,000 hectares of new orchards and vineyards. Armenian peaches have earned a worldwide reputation.

Before the Soviet power, the Erivan canning factory was a dirty little workshop with an insignificant output, not exceeding 5000,000 cans a year. This factory, now completely rebuilt, produces 15,000,00 cans every year.

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USSR in Construction, February 1936, No. 2, (2012.13.30)

Taking butter from a churn.
The Kalinin cheese factory.
Testing the temperature of cheese.
Finished cheeses.

New, well-equipped cheese factories, working by electric power, have been built in the alpine zone of Armenia.

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USSR in Construction, February 1936, No. 2, (2012.13.30)

Erivan [Yerevan] – The Capital of Armenia

Armenian towns
Building of the town Soviet in Leninakan [Gyumri].
Street in Leninakan [Gyumri].
Above the street in Erivan [Yerevan].
Views of old Armenia.

There was a time when a Persian Sardar ruled with his Ferrashas in this city. After him came a Tsarist governor with his cossacks and later came the Dashnak Khatisov with his gunmen.
In 1918, when the Dashnak government was in power in Erivan, the naked and starving refugees lay in the streets alongside the corpses of animals that had died of starvation.
Soviet Erivan is a progressive, genuinely cultured city, with scores of factories and mills, with blocks of many-storeyed houses, with street cars, water supply, educational institutions, theaters, instead of the former 30,000 inhabitants, it has a population of 140,000 [3,000,000 in 2011].
Erivan is a city without illiterate people, a city of growing culture. It is becoming the foremost Soviet city at the borders of the East.

Several pages from the magazine USSR in Construction, February 1936, No. 2, to commemorate the 101st anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian Genocide.

(A few links: NY Times, NY Times Lens Blog: “Survivors of the Armenian Genocide,” photographer Nazik Armenakyan, The Independent, The Independent, The Armenian Genocide Museum & Institute (AGMI))

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USSR in Construction, February 1936, No. 2, (2012.13.30)

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“Pollution in China”

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Lu Guang, The sewage plant of the Fluorine Industrial Park discharges its untreated waste into the riverbed of the Yangtze River through a 1500 meter-long pipeline, Changshu City, Jiangsu Province, “Pollution in China,” June 11, 2009 (2012.14.3)

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Lu Guang, The fields along the Yangtze River are polluted by sewage from the factories of the Maanshan Industrial Park, Anhui Province, “Pollution in China,” June 26, 2009 (2012.14.2)

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Lu Guang, Massive water wastes flow into the Yellow River from the Lasengmiao Industrial District in Inner Mongolia, “Pollution in China,” July 26, 2005 (2012.14.5)

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Lu Guang, High dissipation and pollution rates in the Hainan Industrial District of Wuhai City, Inner Mongolia, “Pollution in China,” March 18, 2008 (2012.14.9)

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Lu Guang, Fumes and dust are everywhere in the Hubin Industrial District, near Shizuishan City, Ningxia, “Pollution in China,” (2012.14.1)

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Lu Guang, The Tianjin Steel Plant is a highly polluting enterprise that is deeply affecting the lives of the local residents, She County [Shexian], Hebei Province, “Pollution in China,” March 18, 2008 (2012.14.7)

Lu Guang was awarded the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography in 2009.

You can read an interview with the photographer about his work here.

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Happy Passover from the Vishniac Archive at ICP

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Roman Vishniac, [Jewish refugees from Germany leaving France for Palestine on board the S.S.Providence, Marseille Harbor], April, 1947

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Roman Vishniac, [Jewish refugees from Germany leaving France for Palestine on board the S.S.Providence, Marseille Harbor], April, 1947

Happy Passover from the Vishniac Archive at ICP! May the coming year bring freedom, safe harbor, and refuge to stateless people and refugees throughout the world.

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Weegee Wednesday: “Dora,” Weegee says, “is a singer of sentimental songs at Sammy’s. She sings very loud, but good.”


Dora Pelletier singing a medley of “I Want a Girl (Like The Girl That Married Dear Old Dad)” [Harry Von Tilzer and William A. Dillon, 1911], “After The Ball” [Charles K. Harris, 1891], “The Band Played On” [Charles B. Ward and John F. Palmer, 1895], “Sidewalks of New York” [Charles B. Lawlor and James W. Blake, 1894], “California Here I Come” [B. G. De Sylva, Joseph Meyer and Al Jolson, 1921] recorded live at Sammy’s Bowery Follies, ca. 1960.

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Weegee (1899-1968), [Dora performing at Sammy’s on the Bowery, New York], April 16, 1944 (14254.1993)

72 years ago this week, PM published a photo of Dora Pelletier, an entertainer at Sammy’s Bowery Follies (267 Bowery), singing, and the words of Weegee, a freelance photographer (who lived a few blocks away at 5 Centre Market Place).

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PM, April 16, 1944, p. m4

Weegee reports on Sammy’s, the Bowery
At No. 267 on the Bowery, among the missions and the flop houses is Sammy’s, the poor man’s Stork Club [14322.1993], the only saloon on the Bowery having a cabaret license. There is never a cover change. There’s no cigaret girl – a vending machine puts out cigarets for a penny apiece [14349.1993]. There’s no hatcheck girl – patrons prefer to dance [20068.1993] with their hats and coats on. But there is a lulu of a floor show [14298.1993], according to Weegee, who covers Sammy’s for us.
The place was opened 10 years ago by Sammy Fuchs [2384.1993] as a regular Bowery barroom. Three years ago a well-dressed man wearing a monocle began dropping in. He would sit at a table by himself and drink. Then Sammy got curious and asked the fellow how come. The fellow answered, “I am an English lord who is tired of the stuffy and formal drinking places uptown and prefer the Bowery, where I know I will escape my friends.”

It grew and it grew
Sammy figured there must be hundreds of characters like that, so he enlarged his place, took out the cabaret license, put in an orchestra and entertainers and the place began to grow. Now Sammy has just taken over the building next door to double the capacity of the place [2032.1993].
As customers arrive from uptown in cabs they are besieged by a bunch of panhandlers asking for a dime for a glass of beer. They get it, too. The place is jammed, the uptown crowd mingling happily with the Bowery crowd [125.1982].
Jimmy Durante once dropped in and gave a free show; also Irving Berlin and wife. (Mr. B. got his start in the Bowery, you know.) Toward midnight some odd types [14228.1993] drop in for a quick one. There is a woman called Pruneface; a man called Horseface; Ethel, the Queen of the Bowery [2023.1993], who generally sports a pair of black eyes “that nature did not give her,” (according to Weegee); a man with a long white beard called The Bishop who, old timers say, is looking all over the Bowery for the man who stole his wife 40 years ago.
Weegee says that one evening “while I was at Sammy’s absorbing the atmosphere and drinks, a midget walked in. He was about three and one-half feet in height. I invited him to have a drink with me. He said he had just arrived from Los Angeles where he had been working for the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., walking the streets dressed as a penguin advertising Kool cigarets. The midget was flush and started buying me drinks. He proudly showed me his social security card and told me that he was 37 years old, and single, as the girls were only after money. After the seventh round of drinks this midget got boisterous and offered to fight [2029.1993] any man (his size) in the house.”

Scotch at $1 – and why
Sammy told Weegee the other night that the new 30% Federal tax hadn’t affected the volume of business. A sign [14305.1993] over the bar says “Drinks of Scotch, $1.” [14307.1993] Sammy gave Weegee the breakdown for the figure…
The extra penny is added because Sammy’s cash register doesn’t add odd numbers. Bowery drinkers don’t mind paying a buck for a drink of Scotch, says Weegee, because it makes them feel important and besides they are helping the war effort by contributing the tax money to Uncle Sam. Sammy sells beer for 15 and 20 cents, rye for 55 and 65.
Sammy greets his patrons at the door. He frisks some of the Bowery ones if he spots a bulge on their hips. They sometimes try to smuggle in a bottle of smoke (straight alcohol) to drink in the washroom. Sammy is wise to the chisellers, but he is a friendly fellow.
“I know Sammy gave $100 without being asked for it for a woman in the neighborhood who died and there was no money for for the funeral,” Weegee told us. “He also takes care of customers’ valuables. I also saw him turn men away from his bar, telling them not to drink till their day off. I saw one woman at the bar give Sammy her wrist watch and $30 to save for her until the following day.
“Sammy [14305.1993] is sector commander of the air raid wardens in the neighborhood and has contributed $5000 worth of equipment. He is known as Mayor of the Bowery and his ambition is to become Mayor of New York City.
PM, April 16, 1944, pp. m4-m5


PM, April 16, 1944, pp. m4-m5

Weegee’s reporting in PM resembles his entertaining encounters with, and photos of, the denizens of Sammy’s published a year later in Naked City (1945). The text in Naked City was entertainingly embroidered with a few more gags and the war and tax material were cut.

The Bowery

At No. 267 Bowery. sandwiched in between Missions and quarter-a-night flop houses, is “Sammy’s,” the poor man’s Stork Club. There is no cover charge nor cigarette girl, and a vending machine dispenses cigarettes [14349.1993]. Neither is there a hat check girl. Patrons prefer to dance [20068.1993] with their hats and coats on. But there is a lively [14298.1993] floor show [2032.1993]… the only saloon on the Bowery with a cabaret license.
As the customers arrive from uptown in cabs, they are greeted by a bunch of panhandlers who don’t ask for the usual “got a nickel for a cup of coffee mister,” but instead for a dime for a glass of beer… and get it too. Inside, the place is jammed with the uptown crowd mingling with the Bowery crowd and enjoying it [125.1982]. But towards midnight some odd types [14228.1993] drop in for a quick one. There is a woman called “Pruneface,” a man called “Horseface”… “Ethel” the queen of the Bowery [2023.1993] who generally sports a pair of black eyes that nature did not give her, a man with a long white beard, who old timers say is looking all over the Bowery for the man who forty years ago stole his wife… they wonder when the two meet whether the wife-stealer will get beat
up or thanked.
While I was there absorbing the atmosphere and drinks, a midget walked in… he was about three and a half feet. I invited him for a drink. He told me that he had just arrived from Los Angeles, where he had been working for a Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co., walking the streets dressed as a penguin. The midget was flush and started buying me drinks. He proudly showed me his social security card, told me that he was thirty-seven years old, was single as the girls were only alter money, that once in a while he got some affection, but had to pay for it… After the seventh round he got boisterous and offered to fight [2029.1993] any man his size in the house. Sammy grabbed the midget and threw him out through the doorway which has a red neon sign saying “Thank you, call again,” hollering at him not to ever come back again. Sammy’s has a blacklist just like Billingsley’s Stork Club [14322.1993] uptown.
Sammy greets all his patrons at the door. I noticed he frisked some of the Bowery ones. He told me that they were the “bottle” babies and he could spot them by the bulge in their hip pockets. They would try to smuggle in a bottle of “smoke” into Sammy’s place to drink in the washroom because if they drank out in the street or hallways the cruising patrol wagons would pick them up. Sammy is wise to all the tricks of the Bowery chiselers. but he is also a friend and always ready to lend a helping hand… lending money so a man can get cleaned up, load and a room while he is getting over a hangover. I know Sammy gave $l00 without being asked for it for a woman in the neighborhood who died and there was no money for the funeral. He also takes care of his customers’ valuables. I saw one woman at the bar give Sammy her wrist watch and thirty dollars to save for her till the following day, and I also saw him turn men away from his bar, telling them not to drink till their day off.
Sammy [2384.1993] is known as the “Mayor of the Bowery” and his ambition is to become Mayor of New York City. And when that happy day arrives Sammy [14305.1993] promises free drinks in every gin mill in town.
Weegee, Naked City, pp. 138-139

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Weegee, Naked City, 1945, pp. 138-139

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Weegee (1899-1968), [Dora at Sammy’s on the Bowery, New York], April 16, 1944 (14255.1993)


Dora Pelletier singing a medley of “I Want a Girl (Like The Girl That Married Dear Old Dad)” [Harry Von Tilzer and William A. Dillon, 1911], “After The Ball” [Charles K. Harris, 1891], “The Band Played On” [Charles B. Ward and John F. Palmer, 1895], “Sidewalks of New York” [Charles B. Lawlor and James W. Blake, 1894], “California Here I Come” [B. G. De Sylva, Joseph Meyer and Al Jolson, 1921] recorded live at Sammy’s Bowery Follies, ca. 1960.

It’s really (another) Weegee Wednesday, a weekly series of Weegee related blog posts. This one year anniversary post returns to Weegee’s reportage on Sammy’s and photos of a singer of sentimental songs’ swan song, sandwiched between sound(cloud). Stay tuned for another very loud but good post on the next Weegee Wednesday.

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Malick Sidibé, 1935 – 2016

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Malick Sidibé, Nuit de Noël, 1962 (22.2004)
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Malick Sidibé, Les Trois Mareines, 1984 (20.2004)
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Malick Sidibé, Mère et Enfants, ca. 1975 (21.2004)

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Weegee Wednesday: Bowery Savings Banks

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Weegee (1899-1968), [Billie Dauscha and Mabel Sidney, Bowery entertainers, New York], 1944

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Weegee (1899-1968), Naked City, 1945, pp. 150-151 (“Ladies keep their money in their stockings…”)

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PM, July 18, 1945

In an early review of Naked City, PM editor John Lewis wrote:

It is unfair to use a single illustration as typical, but I am using the one in the next column of the Bowery floozy’s gam because I like it, and because I like Weegee’s caption: Ladies keep their money in their stockings… PM, July 18, 1945.

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Weegee (1899-1968), “The Bowery Savings Bank,” 1944 (2022.1993)

There were a few Bowery Savings Banks in Weegee’s world. A photo: Billie Dauscha’s right leg, with cash stuffed in her stocking and her shiny shoe, at Sammy’s Bowery Follies. (“At 267 Bowery, sandwiched in between Missions and quarter-a-night flop houses, is ‘Sammy’s,’ the poor man’s Stork Club. Naked City, p. 138.) And a building: the bank at 130 Bowery, five blocks south of Sammy’s and four blocks and a five minute walk from Weegee’s “combination crime museum, photo studio, and love nest behind police headquarters.” (Weegee by Weegee, p.98.) The savings account began on December 20, 1943 with a balance of $600 (same buying power as $8,223.50 in 2016), reached its acme in June 1946 with a balance of $4,754.89 (same buying power as $57,817.27 in 2016). Naked City, published in July 1945, sold well, was very successful and was lucrative for Weegee. Fortunately he didn’t keep his money in his socks, it was deposited in an interest-bearing savings account. The account was closed on December 23, 1947. “I had decided to leave New York. I was off to Hollywood. I thought that 1947 would be a year of new discovery for me.” (Weegee by Weegee, p.98.)

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Bowery Savings Bank, [Arthur Fellig’s Bowery Savings Bank Book], December 1943 – December 1947

Weegee Wednesday is an occasional series exploring, or just enjoying, the life and work of Weegee.

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