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New Canaan Remembers Unique Photographer

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – If a picture says a thousand words, how many does it take to describe a man who took so many photographs of his beloved town?

For New Canaan Fire Chief Ed Karl, it takes many more to describe and celebrate Sydney Greenberg.

“Anyone who knew Syd Greenberg knows it would take a novel to describe him,” said Karl. “His family was first, but photography was a close second."

Greenberg was the man with the camera, taking pictures of structure fires and car accidents as well as town ceremonies and events. The town’s legendary shutterbug died Tuesday at the age of 92.

Karl said it would be hard for anyone to replace Greenberg, who was always around to shoot so many important moments in town history, whether working for the New Canaan Advertiser or as a freelancer. Greenberg had been interested in photography as far back as his teenage years in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“He made a great contribution to the photographic history of New Canaan,” said Karl, who knew Greenberg for more than 20 years and lived near him on Parade Hill Road. “He was always there to take pictures, and he always had a camera out. He was ready to preserve history.”

Greenberg also took photos during his time in the U.S. Army, where he was a tech sergeant in the 164th Signal Corps deployed in China during World War II. His photos were recently featured in a Chinese traveling museum exhibition honoring the American involvement in that war. They were also published in a Chinese magazine.

Many of Greenberg’s New Canaan photos are at the New Canaan Historical Society. Director Janet Lindstrom believes that for every 10 pictures of New Canaan that the Historical Society has on file, Greenberg likely took nine of them. Lindstrom remembers Greenberg taking pictures of familiar scenes, such as God’s Acre and the annual Fourth of July celebration at Waveny Park. But she also recalled that he had more creative images.

“He was very gregarious, and he loved people and enjoyed town events,” Lindstrom said. “He was a special person, I think. If you lived in New Canaan for any length of time, you had to know him.” Oftentimes, people would see him out with a camera and take notice. “They always said ‘Oh, there’s Syd,’” she said. “They knew he was the photographer.”

A private funeral service will be held. Burial with full military honors will be at Beth Moses Cemetery in Farmingdale, N.Y. A public memorial service will be held in New Canaan this spring.

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