Now Open Through April 2023

The New York City Fire Museum is presenting an exhibition showcasing award-winning photographer Jill Freedman’s moving collection of photographs documenting New York City firefighters on the job in the ‘70s. Firehouse: The Photography of Jill Freedman is open now through April 2, 2023.

The exhibition features a number of images contained in Freedman’s book, Firehouse, which was released in 1977 and garnered rave reviews highlighting their honesty and grit that captured the danger, tragedy, heroism, and camaraderie of being a firefighter in New York City.

“Jill Freedman created a visual story that captures an important piece of New York City history,” said Jennifer Brown, Executive Director of the New York City Fire Museum. “Most importantly, she showed the humanity of firefighters through their day-to-day struggles and triumphs.”

The images in the exhibition include close-ups of the firefighters, action shots at the scene of a fire, and more. CNN once described the photographs as “images that describe a community of men in their full humanity, heroic but not just heroes. Pictures of terrible danger meet moments of rough tenderness, then all gives way to goofball antics back at the station.” 

To create this display of heroism and heart, Freedman lived among the firefighters in the Bronx and Harlem for more than a year as she chronicled their work. She followed groups for six days at a time, working 12-hour shifts, then going home to develop the negatives in her dark room, before coming back to the firehouse for another shift.

“Exhibitions such as this are crucial to honoring Jill Freedman’s work and keeping her legacy alive, much like Jill did with her photography subjects,” said the Jill Freedman Estate: Marcia Schiffman, Susan Hecht, Nancy Schiffman Sklar, and Wendy Wernick. “Jill is one of the greatest photographers of all time, and we are pleased to partner with the NYC Fire Museum and other institutions to keep her work available to the public.”

The Jill Freedman Estate has published a new version of Firehouse that is available during the exhibition alongside videos of Jill’s words and works. This edition includes the original text by author and firefighter Dennis Smith, one of the best-known advocates for firefighters in the U.S.

Freedman is best known for her street and documentary photography of the 1970s and 1980s in which she captured life in New York City by immersing herself in the lives of her subjects. In addition to her time spent with firefighters, she rode alongside New York City police officers, joined the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus, and traveled with the Poor People’s campaign. 

The New York City Fire Museum also includes a permanent exhibition that chronicles the history of the New York City Fire Department and a memorial dedicated to the FDNY heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice on September 11, 2001. 

Visiting the New York City Fire Museum

COVID Information

The Museum advises employees, members and guests visiting the Museum to wear a mask.

Directions

Address: 278 Spring Street, New York, N.Y.

To reach the Museum by subway, take the “C” or “E” train (8th Avenue Local) to Spring Street. Walk west 1½ blocks. Alternately, take the “1” train (IRT) to Houston Street. Walk south along Varick Street for 4 blocks to Spring Street. Walk west ½ block. To reach the Museum via bus, take the M10 or M21 to Spring Street.

Hours of Operation

Open Wednesdays through Sundays, 10 am to 5 pm

Admission Prices

Advance tickets are preferred for General Admission:

  • $10.00 for Adults
  • $8.00 for Students, Seniors, Firefighters, AAA members, Federally Disabled (with ID)
  • $5.00 for Children

Free admission – with valid ID – for: 

  • New York City Fire Museum, Museum Council and Cool Culture members
  • Active and Retired FDNY and NYPD members
  • Active and Retired US Military service members

About the New York City Fire Museum

The mission of the New York City Fire Museum is to collect, preserve and present the history and cultural heritage of the fire service of New York and to provide fire prevention and safety education to the public, especially children. Learn more at https://www.nycfiremuseum.org.

About Jill Freedman

Jill Freedman was a highly respected New York City documentary photographer whose award-winning work is included in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, the International Center of Photography, George Eastman House, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the New York Public Library, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, among others. She appeared in solo and group exhibitions throughout the world, and contributed to many prominent publications.

Jill Freedman was best known for her street and documentary photography, recalling the work of André Kertész, W. Eugene Smith, Dorothea Lange, and Cartier-Bresson.  She published seven books: Old News: Resurrection City; Circus Days; Firehouse; Street Cops; A Time That Was: Irish Moments; Jill’s Dogs; and Ireland Ever. Jill Freedman lived and worked on the Upper West Side of New York City.

You can learn more about her life and work at http://www.jillfreedman.com.