Images from The Gordon Archive 

New York on Fire,
by Weegee and friends

 Dedicated to the memory and vision of Arthur Fellig 1899-1968
and to the tough, brave, band of men and women that have stood between New York and disaster for over one and a half centuries.

In their finest and most horrible hour the men and women of the F.D.N.Y. have covered themselves in glory and earned a respect beyond even that enjoyed by their predecessors. 9/11/2001

Congratulations to the Fire Bell Club of New York on the occasion of their 65th anniversary

master Index





























helping an injured fireman (#29)
These pages represent a general, if unorganized, index to the original negatives, currently residing in the Gordon Archive, some by the renowned journalistic photographer Arthur (Usher) Fellig (Weegee). They all deal with fires and the firefighting culture of the 1930's and 1940's. The original images span the period from 1907 into the early 1940's. Many, you will recognize, have been widely published while most have faded into obscurity. They document the uncelebrated as well as the famous, the voyeuristic and the heroic. The locations are mainly in and around New York City but range as far as Chicago and Paris. Like Weegee himself, they are uniquely characteristic of their time and represent a remarkable document of that time.

 The tonal quality of these negatives are, for the most part, quite stunning. All the more so when you realize that many were developed in the trunk of his car! Sadly, the lack of washing facilities and shortcuts taken to make deadlines have left many of them stained and discolored with mineral and chemical deposits. Many have also suffered from poor storage and mechanical damage. Where possible I have tried to include the entire negative including the damaged areas. A number of the negatives have grease pencil marks indicating the preferred cropping. On these I have also kept the entire image ignoring cropping marks in the hope that this will aid research. Some negatives, like the Chicago series (#64-#69) were cropped with black tape that can no longer be safely removed.

Weegee's 1938 Chevy "office" and darkroom


4th Alarm
Grand & Garden, Brooklyn (#83)

The notes (in black) are taken from the inscriptions found on the negative envelopes. Editorial comment by the curator appears in dark red and contributions in dark blue are from Jack Lerch (Hon. Chief of Dept.) at the Mand Library at the FDNY Fire Academy.

All 274 negatives in this collection are now posted here in rough index form. We are reindexing them by subject as rapidly as we can but there is an enormous amount of work to be done before an orderly archive is available. Please be patient and return often. For technical information about the creation of this index, click here.

For a brief biography of Weegee I recommend this one written by Brian Jester. A bibliography can be found at its end. another good source is the Akron Museum.

Higher resolution digital copies of these images as prints and on CD will be made available at nominal cost to qualifying institutions or individuals for academic research or historical archives. Subsidies for these costs may be made available from the Gordon Philanthropic Trust in special cases. For information about this service please contact:
David Geo. Krauss, Curator, The Gordon Archive

 Disclaimer and statement of purpose

The Weegee Project at the Gordon Archive is currently in the discovery and coarse indexing phase. The attribution of all of the negatives is open to question and we are aggressively trying to prove or disprove the provenance them all. If you feel that you have any information that will assist in this effort please contact the Curator. We would greatly appreciate any help that you can offer. Our purpose is to build and distribute a reliable record of this work and the era that it documents for academic research and the enrichment of our understanding of this important period in our history.

Thanks to Gordon "Moon" Mullins who we believe assembled the collection.
Thanks to Al and Joyce for their custodianship of the collection for 30 years.
Thanks to Ira Rubin and the members of the Fire Bell Club of NY without whose enthusiastic and generous help we could never have properly annotated the history of the people and events depicted
Thanks to Jack Lerch at the Mand Library at the New York Fire Academy for adding such rich detail to this site.
Thanks to Firefighter Bill Noonan of the Boston Mass Fire Dept. for his encouragement and great supportive information.
Thanks to Steve Spak for encouragement and a very fine site about the contemporary FDNY.
Thanks to Peter Gordon for his help translating the (sometimes cryptic) notes with the negatives.
Thanks to Brian Jester for he use of his Weegee biography and encouragement.
Last, but far from least, our thanks to Mr. Josh Gordon whose enthusiasm and generous funding have made this project possible.
Copyright 2001, The Gordon Archive