Step back into Queens in the 1950s at this free, newly opened art exhibit in Flushing

Titled "Astoria pool overlook," this photo was taken by Larson in 1953.
Photos by Frank Oscar Larson

Longtime Flushing resident Frank Oscar Larson was a first-generation Swedish immigrant and family man who served in World War I, according to grandson, Soren Larson.

A banker by day, Larson found solace from the everyday stresses of life in a variety of hobbies, including music, wood carving and, most fondly, photography.

“I had known that my grandfather was an amateur photographer, but the only ones I’d ever seen were 3×4 [inches],” Soren Larson said. “I had no idea the extent of what he did.”

Frank Oscar Larson
Frank Oscar Larson

The change came in 2009 when Larson’s mother, who lives in Maine, discovered a box of Frank’s undeveloped negatives, and asked if Soren would like to have them.

“My interest in the negatives, at that point, was mainly family-related,” Larson said.

In addition to uncovering a wealth of family photos, Larson was surprised to find hundreds of photographs depicting 1950s life in New York City, fully revealing his grandfather’s talent behind the lens.

Now, in collaboration with the Queens Historical Society, the devoted grandson has brought a focused look at the artist’s work to Flushing Town Hall.

Titled “Taking it to the Streets: 1950s New York Through the Lens of Flushing Photographer Frank Oscar Larson,” the exhibit features photos mainly of the city’s diverse working class. Viewers can also see some of the borough’s familiar sites, including Flushing Kissena Park and the Astoria pool, as they appeared mid-century.

"By the pond," taken at Kissena Park
“By the pond,” 1953, taken at Kissena Park

“I want to show people that you can develop a love for something outside of your work, and it can become a defining aspect of your life,” Larson said of the exhibit.

“When viewed over 60 years later, we still see ourselves in Larson’s work, even if New York has changed around us,” said Flushing Town Hall’s director of education and public programs, Gabrielle Hamilton, who curated the event with Richard Hourahan, collections manager for the Queens Historical Society.

"On the sideline," 1953, Kissena Park
“On the sideline,” 1953, Kissena Park

The exhibit will be on display until Aug. 6 and includes over 30 of Larson’s photographs. Gallery hours are on Saturdays and Sundays between noon and 5 p.m. The exhibit is free, with a $5 suggested donation.

Flushing Town Hall is located at 137-35 Northern Blvd. For more information, visit Flushing Town Hall’s website or call 718-463-7700 extension 222.

Two boys at boat launch

Two kids