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Photography

Edna Egbert on the Ledge

Well, I bought several books recently. They’re all photography books, but I wanted to share one photo from the book I bought yesterday.

Edna Egbert on the ledge, No. 497 Dean Street. 1942.

The book is New York exposed : photographs from the Daily News, and you can read it online on archive.org or buy it in a few places if you search for it.

When I flipped through the book in Vibes & Scribes this photo was the first one I saw and immediately grabbed me. It totally looks staged, but Edna’s son, Fred, got married, joined the army, and had not written to his mother since, and she was distraught! I don’t know if she could have killed herself landing on the steps of that house, but there were sharp spikes on the railings if she had jumped far enough, so who knows? It was a cry for help.

A policeman kept her talking for 25 minutes while others rigged a net.

As officers Ed Murphy and George Munday tried to persuade her to come back into the building, she brandished a mirror and started swinging it at them. The police grabbed her arms and she proceeded to sit on the ledge.

600 people gathered to watch. The police tried to persuade her to come in the window, but she either jumped or was finally pushed to fall safely in the net.

According to census records, Mrs. Egbert was either 42 or 44-years-old, not 50 as noted in every article about this story. Her husband John Egbert was 64 and their wayward son Fred was 20. Whatever became of Mrs. Egbert and her non-writing son Fred is unknown.

The book is full of other great photos, some you’ll recognise and descriptions to explain what’s happening. Borrow it for an hour on archive.org and take a look through it.