Thursday, May 19, 2011

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Frank Oscar Larson. Is this another Vivian Maier case?

Frank Oscar Larson was born in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in 1896, the son of Swedish immigrants who moved to New York in early 1890's. After serving in World War I as an artilleryman, Frank began working for the Empire Trust Company, a bank in Midtown Manhattan.  He remained employed by Empire Trust from 1920 to 1960, working his way up from auditor to vice-president. Frank passed away in 1964 from a stroke, brought on by lung damage he sustained from exposure to mustard gas in WW1.

Although he was always the family shutterbug, it wasn't until the early 1950's that Frank's passion for photography blossomed.  His weekend excursions around New York with his Rolleiflex camera produced thousands of images, which Frank developed and printed in his basement darkroom. Some he entered in local amateur photographic competitions where he won awards, but the majority of his work remained undiscovered until 2009 when his youngest son's widow found a box of negatives that had been packed away since Frank's death. Those negatives went on to become the images presented in "Reflections of New York" in honor of Frank's memory.

Throughout the latter part of his life, Frank Oscar Larson (1896-1964) would leave his Flushing, Queens home early in the morning with his Rolleiflex camera and embark on photographic expeditions to exotic places in New York City like the Bowery, Chinatown, Hell's Kitchen or Times Square, or to less exotic places like Rockefeller Center, Central Park, and the Cloisters. These photos compiled from negatives recently discovered in an old cardboard box 45 years after Frank's death, shows a unique and moving portrait of New York City in the 1950's.

These are a selection of photos who looks more interesting to me. You can find more in this link of NYTimes as well in the site


  1. nice post, interesting story.
    I'm sure you're aware of it, but I always found even more fascinating the story of Gary Stochl’s.
    Worth a read and the book is beautiful as well.

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