Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Roaming the streets with Mr Speed Graphic

My slowly expanding Weegee collection.
If you have a book or two of Weegee's work the photo captions usually just give the date and vague location, now, at last, with this intriguing book you can find exactly where he took 265 of his remarkable street scene photos in these pages.

As the title suggests this is a guide book (loosely based on those popular tourist guide books like Dorling Kindersley 'Eyewitness' series or 'Everyman Guides') with its upright shape, fold-out maps and clean layouts and typography.

The book is divided into eleven chapters, basically Manhattan and one for Brooklyn plus Coney Island, remember those crowded beach scenes shots? Each starts with a fold-out map (and these have been beautifully created by Adrian Kitzinger) and they show not only the street location but which direction Weegee was facing and a symbol reveals what was being photographed: fire; vehicle accident; police action; murder/suicide; aerial view; burst water main. Not all the photos are what might be called news oriented, there are plenty of ordinary street scene shots but they are all located on the maps. The photos are from the late Thirties to the start of the Sixties, all have captions and nicely some are quite detailed. The only color shot is Times Square from September 1957, a Weegee rarity as newspapers only used his black and white photos.

I found the book quite fascinating and though New York has changed over the decades I've used Street View to find some of these places and occasionally found a location that is more or less as Weegee saw it.

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