He began working as a photographer shortly after his parents moved to the city from the Ukraine, when he was just 14 years old. In 1918 he worked in a Lower Manhattan photography studio, then floated around newspapers for a bit, before officially becoming freelance news photographer in 1935. From his bio:
He centered his practice around police headquarters and in 1938 obtained permission to install a police radio in his car. This allowed him to take the first and most sensational photographs of news events and offer them for sale to publications such as the Herald-Tribune, Daily News, Post, and PM Weekly, among others.
New York's International Center of Photography holds many of his photographs (around 20,000!), and they're bringing 39 of his Bowery prints to Jersey City for a new exhibit. The photos capture a very different incarnation of The Bowery, as it existed in the 1940s and '50s.
Weegee’s photographs show the Bowery when it was still New York’s Skid Row. A gathering point for derelicts and down-and-out transients who huddled in the shadow of the Third Avenue elevated railway, it was notorious for its fleabag hotels, flop houses that offered 25-cent-per-night beds, and crowded all-night missions that provided food and shelter to those who could afford neither. The exhibition includes an extensive selection of Weegee’s photographs of a raucous nightclub and cabaret called Sammy’s on the Bowery, located at 267 Bowery.
The exhibit opens at Mana Contemporary (888 Newark Avenue, Jersey City) on May 1st, and will run through August 5th. Click through for a preview, as well as photos of the man himself.