Opium den photos

Completely coincidental to my recent  obsession with painkilling techniques, surfing around this morning I found this incredibly cool website with period photos of late 19th/early 20th century opium dens.  The Opium Museum is devoted to photography of users, paraphernalia, history and opium-related miscellanea.  A taste:

San Francisco, early 1900s, man smoking opium with his cat.  (“I can has hit?”)

Opium den in New York City, early 20th century:

Young kid smoking opium, late 1800s:

The magnificent Billie Holiday when she was arrested for opium possession in 1949:

Tools of the trade — the artistry of some of this equipment is amazing:

Lots more opiatude at The Opium Museum.

(via boingboing)

6 Responses to “Opium den photos”


  1. 1 Antonia Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Hey JJ,

    I have lots of these photos (eg NYC Opium Den)and more. That’s because my first pro journalism job was at a now defunct Montreal tab which was associated with one of the original trash tabs Midnight as well as The Police Gazette, a pulp crime mag. Joe Azzaria was the owner. Anyway, long story short, they were getting rid of lots of stuff for a move and these photos were part of the detritus. I have pictures of guys burning mountains of hash, drug busts, plus plus …

    I am gonna contact this museum and see if they want them.

  2. 2 JJ Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    hi Antonia!

    Oh, that’s awesome! I bet the museum will be interested in them for sure.

    I think the guy who does the website also has a book, so maybe he can use your pics if he does a “part II”!

  3. 3 Frank Frink Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    JJ, thanks for that link. I love that sort of thing.

    Antonia, OMG! Midnight (and related publications) and Joe Azaria. Montreal legend. You must have some stories. I mean, not that you don’t already but working within the Azaria empire gives you the opportunity to have so many more.

  4. 4 JJ Friday, November 20, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    FF – I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s fascinated by these old photos! I knew there’d be someone 😉

  5. 5 G.A.C.G.B. Friday, February 5, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Antonia, would love to see some of those photos and anything else related to Midnight or Joe Azaria, as he was my father. You can write to me at mgcc53@videotron.qc.ca Thanks!

  6. 6 Gina Rodriguez Saturday, April 10, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Hi!
    I’m a Mexican photohistorian, and I would like to share some Mexican photos about the Opium subject.
    Saludos,
    GR


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