Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

Top 10 Greatest Historic NYC Photographs — #8

Children on a Fire Escape by Weegee

08 Children on a Fire Escape

Legendary crime photographer, Arthur Fellig (better known as “Weegee”) saw art in the simple and the grotesque. In the hot summer of 1938, he snapped this charming slice-of-life photo, sometimes titled Hotspell or Tenement Penthouse, on Rivington Street in the Lower East Side. In an age before air conditioning, nine impoverished children escape their stuffy apartment by sleeping on the precarious perch of a fire escape (with cat in tow). To this day, visitors to the historic metropolis find it remarkable that even the city’s most desired real estate is dotted with window units, forgetting that central air is a modern innovation, inaccessible to protected historic landmarks.

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