The Man Behind the Weegee

Christopher Bonanos at The Paris Review:

Usher Fellig was a greenhorn, a hungry shtetl child from eastern Europe who spoke no English. When he came through Ellis Island in 1909, at ten years old, he reinvented himself, as so many immigrants do. In his first years in New York, Usher became Arthur, a Lower East Side street kid who was eager to get out of what he called “the lousy tenements,” earn a living, impress girls, make a splash. He had turned his name (slightly) less Jewish and his identity (somewhat) more American, as much as he could make it. As a young man, he was shy, awkward, broke, and unpolished, and at fourteen, he became a seventh-grade dropout. He was also smart, ambitious, funny, and (as he and then his fellow New Yorkers and eventually the world discovered) enormously expressive when you put a camera in his hands.

more here.