The tidy, empty backyards of 1920s Brooklyn

Painter Winthrop Turney was born in Brooklyn and lived there for most of his life. He found a worthy subject in the backyards of the row houses and tenements in the borough’s poorer neighborhoods.


“Brooklyn Buildings From the Rear,” is above and “Brooklyn Backyards,” below. Both were done in the 1920s, and both depict the same shuttered houses and looming factory.


Turney was also fascinated with the Brooklyn waterfront, specifically the Erie Basin off Red Hook, once an industrial shipyard.

Some examples of his view of Brooklyn’s docks and ships can be seen here.

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4 Responses to “The tidy, empty backyards of 1920s Brooklyn”

  1. ronfwnc Says:

    I’m guessing a bit, but the backyards were probably kept empty because they were used for drying laundry when the weather permitted

  2. christopher Says:

    Is that factory or a school? Looks very similar to the school buildings in Bushwick. That actually could be Bushwick today. Those backyards are still empty. There’s no way to get back there.

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    Good question. I thought it was a factory because it appears to have another building behind it, like an L shaped industrial building, and of course the red brick reminds me of industry.

  4. petey Says:

    i want those paintings

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