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Metamorphosis - Meatpacking District 1985+2013

I Fear Brooklyn:

Slow-walking frame-by-frame through Brian Rose’s Metamorphosis, it’s difficult not to long for the romanticism of that period. Brick warehouses, rotting fence posts, white box trucks where the gays would get it on for fear of beatings. To look at how and why it’s changed, well, it hurts so much you ache for more.

City Lab (From the Atlantic)

Many of the old buildings Rose shot in 1985 remain today, but the life they support appears to be from a different universe. In the book's foreword, Jeremiah Moss of Vanishing New York expresses not only a longing for what the Meatpacking district used to be but bewilderment over how fast it all went away, writing of the district's past: "[M]eat on hooks, libertines in leather, sex-shifters, artists, poets, the indescribable stink of it all, that mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful (to crib e.e. cummings) underbelly of the old New York—was it all a collective hallucination? Was it ever real?"

Brian Rose:

In the early '80s it was possible to imagine New York going the way of present-day Detroit rather than way things have turned out. You'd stand in the middle of the desolation on the Lower East Side or over in the Meatpacking District and say to yourself, "This is fantastic! This is beautiful!" And there was a kind of perfection in that moment. But in another moment you'd realize that it was a lie. That people were dying of AIDS, that people were strung out on drugs, that buildings were burning down and lost forever.

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Time and Space on the Lower East Side

New York Times:

As the photographs show, much on the Lower East Side has changed over 30 years. But Mr. Rose sees an element of permanence in the physical grid of the area that has endured for a century or more. “I think this way we tend to look at things, as before and after, is really simplistic,” he said. “People should think more about the continuum.”


...these clear, sharp, detailed images present more visual information than the eye can take in. They are a view across time and space, beyond the merely human perspective. This complex and handsomely-presented project is a portrait, or map, of a place, which challenges our assumptions about urban street photography.

-- Faye Robson

The Wall Street Journal:

But don’t expect his new book to be a traditional then-and-now collection forlorn about the march of time.

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