A firefighter who worked at the Uptown Fire Station told me that his was the busiest fire station in America during the decade of the 1970s when I was photographing in Uptown. His unit was called out to fight as many as 400 fires a year. That’s more than one every day! As he said, “They barely had time to shire their shoes!”

Here the firefighters are taking a well deserved rest between calls to enjoy what they called “the SHOW.” The show was the action on the sidewalk. Uptown during the 1970s was free street theater. Every few minutes, people would walk by who were part of the great parade of life. At the time, the fire station sandwiched between the Wilson Club Men’s Hotel, a series of bars, day labor agencies, halfway houses, and resale shops.

The fire station at 1200 West Wilson looks much the same today as it did then, although the area around it has changes significantly. Truman College, across the street, was under construction when I took this shot in 1974.