New York/Atlantic City


Caesar’s garage, Atlantic City (4×5 negative) — © Brian Rose

Difference in scale — almost a photographic genre in itself — is stupefyingly on display in Atlantic City. And every city planning truism about livable streets has been blown to smithereens. Learning from Las Vegas, AC gets a PhD in architecture.

I am torn between celebrating the wanton caziness of it all and seeking the smug moral high ground on this low lying spit of sand. Atlantic City seems to be imploding at the same time as it is once again being resurrected. The story goes on — the gamblers play on in windowless rooms — while the waves crash closer and closer to the boardwalk.

New York/Atlantic City


Harrah’s casino, Atlantic City, (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

Atlantic City was built on a barrier island (Absecon Island), and for most of its history, was oriented to the boardwalk along the Atlantic Ocean — a grid of streets with names anyone who has played Monopoly knows well. The backside of the island was mostly low lying wetlands.

The first casinos were built along the boardwalk, though few gamblers were interested in getting their feet wet in the surf, or navigating the crime-ridden streets of the city. And these being self-contained realms, access to highways was more important, and several casinos were built in the Marina district along Absecon Inlet at a safe remove from the city proper.

At one time, Donald Trump owned four casinos including the Trump Marina, which was sold at a fire sale price a few years ago. It’s now the Golden Nugget — the parking structure to the left in the photo above.

From NJ.com:

Swatches of colorful new carpeting were laid down in hotel hallways to show what will eventually replace the more drab patterns consisting of tens of thousands of interlocking letter “T”s, beneath the “Trump” name on each room door.

“We have been working on removing everything that says ‘Trump,’ but it’s overwhelming,” said Amy Chasey, a Golden Nugget spokeswoman.

New York/Atlantic City


Miss America with crown, Atlantic City — © Brian Rose

The Miss America pageant was a big deal in the 1960s when I was growing up in Williamsburg, Virginia. Every year the family gathered around the TV set as we assiduously scrutinized the contestants, 18 or 19 year old women dolled up to be ageless icons of poise and beauty. Talented, too. Among other things, able to effortlessly traverse the stage in sky high heels.

The pageant has experienced many controversies, and gone through a lot of changes over the years. Certainly, its centrality in American culture has faded. It left Atlantic City for Las Vegas, and then returned again to this struggling remnant of a seaside resort. A relic, perhaps, of those simpler times that never were.

Now, we are witnessing yet another Miss America spectacle — it turns out the leaders of the organization are a bunch of sexist louts. Quelle surprise! A bevy of former beauty queens has called for resignations.The CEO was just suspended.

Jennifer Weiner writes in the New York Times: “It might not be enough. Nothing might be able to remove the stain of so much hateful, crude, sexist talk. It might be that we’ve seen our last weeping, rhinestone-crowned Miss A. making her way down the Atlantic City walkway.”

Meanwhile, our crude lecher-in-chief, whose sham embrace of Atlantic City left it defiled and desolated, remains standing. “Make America great again.”

 

New York/Lower East Side


The Bowery and East 1st Street, 2010 (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

Republicans in Congress rushed the bill through for other reasons: to combat the fact of their own legislative incompetence, to satisfy their donors and to honor their long-held belief that the rich are America’s true governing force.

The middle class and the poor were never at the heart of this heartless bill. They are simply a veneer behind which a crime is occurring: the great American tax heist.

Charles Blow, The New York Times

New York/Washington, D.C.


The Lincoln Memorial (4×5 film) 1982 — © Brian Rose

There have been more perilous moments in American history — the Civil War, certainly — but few. The coming days will shake the pillars of this great democratic experiment. Be strong. Be prepared for anything.

New York/Washington, D.C.


Grant Memorial, Washington, D.C. (4×5 film) 1982 — © Brian Rose

From a small group of photographs I made in Washington, D.C. in the early 1980s. The Grant Memorial, by sculptor Henry Shrady, stands directly in front of the Capitol, an equestrian statue with dramatic depictions of battle on either side. In my photograph, the cavalry charge is shown silhouetted against the early evening sky.

Trump himself told us plainly on Friday night in Pensacola, Fla., that he will do whatever it takes to hold power, and he should be taken seriously. “There are powerful forces in Washington trying to sabotage our movement,” he declared. “These are bad people, these are very, very bad and evil people. . . . But you know what, we’re stopping them. You’re seeing that right now.”

We are far closer to the edge than we want to think.

E.J. Dionne, The Washington Post

New York/Atlantic City


N. Congress Avenue, Atlantic City — © Brian Rose

Now, I been lookin for a job, but it’s hard to find
Down here it’s just winners and losers and don’t
Get caught on the wrong side of that line
Well, I’m tired of comin out on the losin end
So, honey, last night I met this guy and I’m gonna
Do a little favor for him

— Bruce Springsteen

New York/Atlantic City


Atlantic City — © Brian Rose


Atlantic City — © Brian Rose


Atlantic City — © Brian Rose

A few more digital images — I’m also shooting both 4×5 film of most everything — but they take some time to process and scan. The picture directly above was made with my pocket digital camera with a small lens that can be poked through the openings in chain link fences. That was the case here.

All the 4×5 images for this project are being made with a lightweight camera called a Travelwide, which has no movements and no ground glass. You set the focus manually based on distance, and you can even handhold it, though I usually stick it on a tripod. Last Thursday in Atlantic City was reasonably temperate, but it was very windy. So, the tripod was a must.

The great thing is that I can carry everything in a small camera bag — I usually have the camera and tripod balanced on my shoulder as I walk around — and most of it is made out of plastic or carbon fiber materials, including the tripod. I’m using an old Schneider 90mm lens bought bought for under $200. The camera and lens together cost less than $400, but it works to perfection. The tripod, however, is another story. And the film…

New York/Trump Soho


Trump Soho Hotel seen from Hudson Street (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

From the start the Trump Soho Hotel was an illegal operation, a money laundering scheme for Russian money. The Trump organization skirted zoning regulations, but the city of New York did not enforce the rules. Ivanka and Donald, Jr. lied about sales figures, but the attorney general did not prosecute. They got away with it for almost ten years.

But eventually, the Trump name became a liability — even out of town sports teams refused to stay there. The apartments did not sell. The rich and famous had other less problematic options. Now, the Trumps are cutting their losses and cutting loose the property.

From the New York Times:

Before it broke ground, protesters took to the streets, chanting “Dump the Trump” and complaining that the skyscraper would break zoning rules. Then, in 2008, a worker fell 42 stories to his death during a construction accident.

In November 2011, the Trumps and other defendants paid 90 percent of $3.16 million in deposits to settle claims from buyers of condominium units that Mr. Trump, his children and others had inflated sales figures in what turned out to be a struggling project. The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., was pursuing a criminal investigation into the same issue, The New York Times reported last year. Some prosecutors felt they had enough evidence to build a case, but Mr. Vance declined to pursue charges, several news organizations reported last month.

At the same time, a separate lawsuit alleged that the project was backed by felons and financing from Russia. Felix Sater, a Russian deal maker, felon and F.B.I. informant, had helped facilitate the deal, the lawsuit said.

New York/Atlantic City


Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City — © Brian Rose

Back in Atlantic City. A cool windy November day, I found myself among the Roman columns opposite the Dutch styled Knife and Fork restaurant. In the background, the black and white striped Atlantic Club casino, now closed along with the Trump Plaza, The Trump Taj Mahal, and the Revel further up the beach.

Standing where Atlantic, Pacific and Albany Avenues converge, the Knife & Fork was originally established in 1912 by then Atlantic City Mayor William Riddle, the Commodore Louis Kuehnle, and their cronies as an exclusive men’s drinking and dining club. The second floor was graced with curtained dining alcoves and a separate “ladies lounge” where women, who were not permitted at the bar, waited to be summoned. Private rooms on the third and fourth floors were used for gambling and, perhaps, other activities.


South Wilson Avenue, Atlantic City — © Brian Rose

The Atlantic Club casino with its palatial arched windows and hotel tower hovers over a row of stucco  apartment buildings, vestiges of an earlier time.

Some people say if they buy the Atlantic Club, they might bulldoze it because they don’t feel/think it’s worth it,”  (Mayor) Guardian said. “Everyone wants to save the garage; some people want to save the tower that was built. While others said it just needs some TLC.


The Atlantic Club casino, Atlantic City — © Brian Rose

Nearby, Stockton University is building a new campus, which will bring young upwardly mobile people to the city, and the Hard Rock Cafe is taking over the Trump Taj Mahal. New market rate apartments are going up nearby. Meanwhile…

A New Jersey redevelopment agency has given preliminary approval to a $5.6 million payment to billionaire investor Carl Icahn to help pay for the demolition of part of Atlantic City’s former Trump Plaza casino.


Pacific Avenue, Atlantic City (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

For the moment, the former Trump Plaza tower commands the skyline above Boardwalk Hall.

I agree this project needs to come down,” said the mayor, who leaves office in January. “But why are they asking us for $5.6 million? You’re already responsible for the project closing and the loss of jobs and the suffering the city has gone through.

New York/Arcaid Competition

I did not win the Arcaid architecture photograph of the year competition. The winner was just announced in Berlin — Terrence Zhang — a Chinese photographer who, somehow, managed to have three images in the final 20.


Arcaid 2017 competition winner– photo by Terrence Zhang

I was curious to see whether the attendees at the World Architecture Festival would choose something purely architectural and/or compositional, or something with social/political content. They went with the former — a beautiful, atmospheric, classically symmetrical image.

Here is my submission.


North wall of the Revel casino, Atlantic City — © Brian Rose

All 20 of the shortlisted photographs will be exhibited in London and Beijing.

New York/Berlin


Arcaid shortlisted photos, World Architecture Festival, Berlin

This picture popped up on my twitter feed just a little while ago. It’s the installation of the finalists for the Arcaid architecture photograph award at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin.

That’s my picture at the far right. Attendees of the festival vote for their favorite photograph, and the winner is announced at a gala dinner that closes the event.

New York/Berlin

Ebertstrasse, Berlin, 1989 — © Brian Rose

28 years ago today, the Berlin wall opened. It was a moment of joyous celebration, a triumph of the human spirit, and an eternal symbol of freedom against repression.

28 years later, we are in a much darker place as the shadow of authoritarianism stalks once again in the United States and abroad.

But let us not doubt, on this day, that an aroused public will not permit the walls of hatred and tyranny to stand. And those who desecrate our ideals, and seek to tear apart the bonds that unite us, will be vanquished.

“A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”  — The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776