“A look of grave concern…”

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Weegee (1899-1968), [Police officer looking at woman on stretcher, New York], November 30, 1943 (966.1993)

At 12:50 AM on November 30th, 1943 an explosion on the ground floor of the Western Electric Company building killed two people and injured more than 30 others. The explosion was felt through out much of Lower Manhattan and even as far away as New Jersey. The explosion broke every window in the ten story Western Electric building, and many others within a ten block radius. According to The New York Times, nearby streets were ankle-deep in shattered glass. 700 of the 1,000 Western Electric employees working the night shift were women. They were working around the clock because of the war. The workers were making radio equipment and radio tubes for the armed forces. The explosion was an accident, not terrorism or sabotage, according to the New York Police Department, the FBI was noncommittal. Sabotage was a concern, because there were a number of plants nearby also making instruments and devices for the war. The explosion was caused by a spark made by a pair of workmen who were trying to repair a leaking hydrogen tank. They and many other hydrogen tanks were on a loading platform. A 28 year old guard died of the burns he received while dragging the two workmen out to safety. Mayor La Guardia arrived at the scene around 2 AM. The fire was extinguished in about an hour and was limited to the loading platform area.

The magnificent edifice at 395 Hudson Street occupies an entire city block, and is framed by Houston, Hudson, Greenwich, and Clarkson Streets. When the building opened on July 15, 1921, it was New York City’s largest concrete building, cost $5,000,000 (approximately $69,678,813 in 2017) to build, and was the most “up-to-date warehouse-shop-office in the country.” The land “on which the new building stands was was purchased from the Corporation of Trinity Church, which received it from Queen Anne (1665–1714) in 1705.” (The New York Times, July 3, 1921.) (More information and “an excellent view of the block which will be occupied by the new 395 Hudson St. building,” before construction began, can be seen in the Western Electric News, The Employee’s Magazine, July 1920.) The reinforced concrete building was built by the Turner Construction Company. (According to the building’s website, it was designed by the architectural firm McKenzie, Voorhees & Gmelin and renovated in 1989, and the building has a “structural steel frame with red brick façade and contains 512 double pane, mahogany tilt and pivot operable windows.”) The photo is an amazing achievement: in a fraction of a second, in the middle of the night, during a chaotic catastrophe, a uniformed police officer displays enormous empathy and consternation while looking at the calm, placid face of an injured woman, human and helpless, on a stretcher. (Unidentified photographer in the background.) An uncropped version reveals that the cop was not the only empathetic and concerned human looking gravely at the body brought to the back of an ambulance.

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Weegee (1899-1968), [Police officer looking at woman on stretcher], November 30, 1943 (Portfolio 40)

On Wednesday, December 1, 1943, PM published a pair of unrelated photos made by Weegee. In one, a few people including a police officer are looking at a destroyed police car, and in the other and a police officer is looking at an injured person on a stretcher. (PM gave very little coverage to the massive explosion, no articles, just one great photo, while The New York Times ran a few articles, without photos.) The two versions of the famous photo, often called “The Human Cop,” published in PM and Naked City, are about a half of the original negative. The photo above, made from the original 4×5 negative, was not cropped and was expertly printed in 1982 by the brilliant Sid Kaplan.

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PM, December 1, 1943, p. 16

End of a Bandit Chase
Two policemen were critically injured early yesterday when their radio car cracked into a truck at 55th and Eleventh Ave. They were chasing two men who were fleeing in a stolen car after holding up a tailor shop at 446 W. 57th St. One suspect was later seized by other policemen.

Proving the Cops are Human
A look of grave concern crosses the face of this policeman as he watches an injured woman being removed from the Western Electric plant at 395 Hudson St. following explosion that killed two early yesterday.

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Weegee, Naked City, 1945, pp. 68-69

…and the human cop.

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Shopping in the Past: Collectable, Grocery, Hardware, Grocery – Delicatessen, Junk, and Secondhand Shoe Shops, 1926-1946


James VanDerZee (1886-1983), [Junk shop with owner], 1926 (860.2000)


James VanDerZee (1886-1983), A Pioneering Negro Owned Grocery, 1927 (859.2000)

(More about James VanDerZee in this great Fansinaflashbulb post: James VanDerZee.)


Berenice Abbott (1898-1991), Hardware Store, January 26, 1938 (667.1984)


Aaron Siskind (1903-1991), [Grocery store, Harlem], 1940 (105.1981)


Weegee (1899-1968), [Wartime rationing: shopping for secondhand shoes, New York], 1943 (15332.1993)

Show Sales Spurt on First Day of Rationing
Store at 92 Third Ave. sells factory rejects and second hand shoes, not affected by rationing. Most are bought by working men. Business doubled recently. (No, the customer isn’t LaGuardia or Costello.) PM, February 10, 1943, p. 6.


Lee Sievan (1907-1990), Junk Shop, ca. 1946 (29.1990)

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“A wishful dream about Thanksgiving, turkey, etc.” – Happy Thanksgiving, 2017


Aaron Siskind, Harlem Peace Meals, ca. 1937 (93.1981)


Martin Munkácsi, [Turkey vendor, England], 1932 (2007.110.55)


Todd Webb, [Turkey seller, Patzcuaro, Mexico], 1969 (2013.99.54)


Lee Sievan, Turkey Dinner 40¢, 1940s (7.1990)


Weegee, [Triumphant turkey catcher after turkey truck crash on the Bowery, New York], ca. 1942-43 (16442.1993)


Weegee, Only a Dream!, 1938 (2438.1993)

“Only a Dream!”
While a 2 alarm fire was raging at Washington and Gansevoort Sts. This derelict slept through all the noise and excitement, must have had a wishful dream about Thanksgiving, turkey, etc…

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Inflation, or “…it’s just the hand of a 45 foot clown”


Weegee, [Cop and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon hand, New York], 1945 (14753.1993)


Weegee, [Female cab driver with Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon, New York], 1945 (14751.1993)

Don’t be SCARED… LADY CAB DRIVER…
cruising down COLUMBUS AVE in the rain…
its just the hand of a 45 FT. CLOWN
being filled with HELLIUM GAS for the
annual MACYS DEPARTMENT STORE thanksgiving day parade…


Weegee (1899-1968), [Female cab driver with Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon, New York], 1945 (284)

This photograph was made at “Amsterdam Avenue, Looking South from West 107th Street.” Weegee Guide to New York, pp. 346-347


Weegee, [Bobo the Hobo filled with helium gas for annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York], 1945 (3077.1993)


Weegee, [Inflating Santa Claus for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York], ca. 1940 (3076.1993)

This photograph was made at “Manhattan Ave. and West 106th St.“, Weegee Guide to New York, pp. 346-347


PM, November 18, 1940, p. 17

Tony Sarg Polishes Off Some Parade Monsters
On Thursday, Macy’s 16th annual Thanksgiving parade will start the Christmas shopping season off with a bang. In his Fort Lee, N.J. studios, Tony Sarg adds finishing touches to his inflated paraders. A seven story Uncle Sam will be there – and so will Superman, Suitable mammoth. Photo by John DeBiase, PM Staff.

The biggest balloons are made in a hangar at Akron, Ohio. This is the start of Santa Claus’s head, which, with his giant friends, is deflated and shipped here to be filled with helium for the big parade. The parade will start down Central Park West from 106th Street at 11:30 a.m., then follow Broadway to Macy’s at 34th Street.

The parade will have 26 divisions, one for each letter of the alphabet. Above, Sarg’s sketches for balloons E, H and Z divisions. PM, November 18, 1940, p. 17

Tony Sarg (1880-1942), a puppeteer, artist, author, illustrator, designer, prankster, and restaurateur, created animated holiday window designs for Macy’s and created the first balloons used in the early Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parades. The parade was suspended for a few years, 1942-44, during World War Two. In 1945 “Macy’s Mammoth, Merry Thanksgiving Parade” featured five new balloons, seventeen floats, seven bands, acrobats, tumblers, clowns, dancers, animals, and sideshows. The Bobo the Hobo clown balloon was introduced in 1945 and was apparently 44 feet high and 38 feet wide, inflated with 6,000 cubic feet of helium, and his clothes were colorful. In subsequent parades Bobo the Hobo transmogrified into a baseball player, policeman, and Harold the Fireman. By 1945, and after the publication of Naked City, Weegee had more-than-enough experience photographing prostrate and supine bodies, smaller and no-less-alive, or merely sleeping.

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Happy Birthday Fansinaflashbulb!


Unidentified Photographer, [Unidentified Woman with Camera], ca. 1935 (437.2005)

Nine years ago today Fansinaflashbub was born. It premiered with the post:

Let the blog begin
Posted on November 19, 2008 by fansinaflashbulb

Starting on November 20, the International Center of Photography will add images and interpretive text highlighting works within its collections. These will include photographic images, noted books, and other fascinating artifacts. Let the blog begin..


Unidentified Photographer, [Unidentified Woman], ca. 1890 (2008.39.1)

To commemorate this monumental achievement in longevity this post presents photos and objects that can not be seen anywhere else. Photos and objects that are unique, breathtaking, spellbinding, and are at least 80 years old.

Nine yearsit seems like only yesterday. Time flies when you’re blogging. Nine years is about: nine-tenths as long as King Tut’s reign; about three-fourths as long as FDR‘s Presidential Term; about one-and-a-half times as long as World War II; about two times as long as World War I; about two-and-a-half times as long as the American Civil War; about one-thirtieth as long as a giant tortoise’s lifespan; and about 150,000,000 times as long as the first movie.


Unidentified Photographer, [Frey Family Marble Book], ca. 1900

Throughout the nine years of Fansinaflashbulb’s existence there have been 1,094 posts, 1,856,918 views, and there are now slightly north of 3,000 followers. There have been 497,069 views from the United States, 84,449 views from France, 17,216 from the Netherlands, 5,484 from Hungary, 2,539 from Thailand, 2,932 from Taiwan, 1,381 from Peru, 1,001 from Georgia, 563 from Iceland, 267 from Armenia, 204 from Angola, 198 from Sudan, 175 from Sri Lanka, 145 from Kazakhstan, 87 from Cambodia, 69 from Laos, 22 from Libya and Iran, 21 from Madagascar and Turkmenistan, eight from Bhutan, five from Liberia and Vatican City, four from Mali and Tajikistan, two from Rwanda and Antarctica, one from Togo and Samoa.


Unidentified Photographer, [Four Unidentified Men in Frames] ca. 1875 (2008.81.8)

We are speaking seriously about civil rights. And politics. Concerned photography is a concern. We positively present books, magazines, newspapers, and posters. (Even a few GIFs.) Frequently thinking about food and freedom and music. There’s something for everybody. Perhaps cats are your cup of tea or coffee. Conceivably you (heart) dogs or birds. Possibly portraits float your boat. Perchance you are crazy for tintypes. Or Polaroids? Currently based in New Jersey and thinking about New York City. From the funny to the sad, from the silly to the sublime. From life to death. Nothing’s too small, or too large. With occasional attempts at humor. You can find almost everything on fansinaflashbulbYou can never have too much Weegee


Unidentified Photographer, [Weegee with camera and woman], ca. 1937 (20153.1993)

Most importantly, thank you for reading!

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Rembrandt, [Unidentified women in a question mark], ca. 1915 (2006.62.1)

Let the blog continue!

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Weegee’s Cats


Weegee, “…and the cat!”, November 25, 1943 (13996.1993)


PM, November 25, 1943, p. 12

How to Wreck a Tavern – Cold Sober!
Federal men took care of Walsh’s Bar and Grill, 213 Tenth Ave. after place was accused of taking bad care of its customers by selling bootleg liquor. First they stacked the wet goods on the bar…
…then they started to dismantle the place. here they take the beer cooling system apart. According to Government boys, a number of local taverns were refilling standard bottles with the newly made stuff.
Then they took the palms…
…and the cash register…
and the bar…
…and the cigaret machine…
…and the juke box…
…and the cat!
Photos by Weegee, PM, November 25, 1943, p. 12


Weegee, “At midnight both the elite and bums have left Sammy’s on the Bowery; only a milk-drinker remains while Sammy counts the receipts”, April 1, 1945 (14304.1993)


PM, April 1, 1945

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Belles Fontaines


Eugène Atget (1857-1927), Fontaine Colbert, Rue Colbert 6, 1907-08 (Printed 1907-27) (2008.111.33)


Eugène Atget (1857-1927), Ancienne Fountaire Saint-Benoit, 1624, aujord’hui College de France, 1898-1927 (2011.52.12)


Eugène Atget (1857-1927), Le Chateau de Versailles, 1898-1927 (2011.52.26)


Eugène Atget (1857-1927), Juvisy, Fontaine, Pont des Belles Fontaines, 1921 (Printed 1921-27) (2008.111.33)


Eugène Atget (1857-1927), Juvisy, Fontaine, Pont des Belles Fontaines, 1921 (printed 1921-27) (2009.79.50)


Eugène Atget (1857-1927), Détail de la fontaine Cuvier, angle de la rue Cuvier et de la rue Linné, 1905 (printed 1905-27) (2009.79.29)

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