The photographs in this collection are taken from the files of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the St. Paul Dispatch, and span a period from the nineteen-forties to the mid-sixties. Among the many records of long-forgotten civic functions are shocking crime-scene photographs, a reminder of an era when the country's newspaper photographers—an army of Weegees, equipped with oversized Speed Graphic flash cameras and radios tuned to the police scanners—regularly provided readers with lurid coverage of violent crimes and spectacular accidents. There is a harsh intimacy to these photographs, which bring us as close as possible to car-crash victims, suicides, and mass murderers confessing their crimes. But the welter of detail in the pictures—the seamed stockings of a murder victim, the huddle of bystanders after a bar shooting—provides a nuanced portrait of a Midwestern city and of American culture at midcentury.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
"A collection of vivid and sometimes spectacular photographs that throw new light on the not-so-distant past, a place that is a bit like home, a bit like a movie, and a bit like another planet. It is heartening to find such stuff so well preserved and so expertly annotated.? -- Luc Sante, author of Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York, Evidence, and The Factory of Facts