Category Archives: Greenwich Village

New York/Love Saves the Day

Love Saves the Day, Second Avenue and East 7th Street — © Brian Rose

Here in the East Village we are in shock over the explosion and fire that have leveled three historic tenement buildings on Second Avenue at East 7th Street. At present, there are missing people and numerous injured.

This is the downtown of the East Village, the heart of the culture and subculture that makes this place special, from high to low, the Beats, the Hippies, the Punks, and all who have chosen, or who have been chosen, to live in this crazy part of the world.

From 1966 to 2008 there was Love Saves the Day, a vintage clothing and bric-a-brac shop in the building now a heap of rubble. Above is a picture I took passing by not long before the shop closed.

Love Saves the Day.

New York/Meatpacking District

Washington Street and W12th, 1985 — © Brian Rose

After finishing up my Meatpacking book, Metamorphosis, I somehow discovered the negative for the image above in another mystery box in my archive, too late for the book. It’s a view down Washington Street looking toward the Twin Towers and shows how the High Line used to go further south passing through Westbeth, the commercial complex repurposed as artists’ housing in 1970.

The building in the foreground with the Victor Auto Service sign is now the restaurant Barbuto, and the red house to the left contains Tortilla Flats, the Mexican restaurant. At some point after this photograph was taken, three blocks of the High Line were torn down between Gansevoort Street and W12th. The vacant lot under the High Line in the picture now contains an apartment building and garden entryway. See below.


It took a good while for me to get around to scanning and working up this image. These old negatives are difficult to color correct, and the image above represents probably six hours of careful coaxing in Photoshop. It’s mostly open shade, and strongly backlit, which makes it all the more problematic.

So, It didn’t make it to Metamorphosis, but it will be perfect for WTC, my next book, about the World Trade Center.

New York/Cooper Square

Cooper Square, New York — © Brian Rose

As Cooper Square gets a makeover, and Cooper Union “reinvents” itself — students entering the school now pay tuition for the first time since 1859 — Peter Cooper sits protected, for his own good we are told, in a box at the center of the square.

Some of us still hold out hope, that when Peter emerges from his plywood prison, his pioneering school will have returned to the mission he set out for it: tuition free, open to all, at the pinnacle of higher education in America.

That hope now rests primarily on a lawsuit brought against the Board of Trustees of Cooper Union accusing them of violating the school’s charter and squandering its resources. We wait — alumni and friends — with mounting anticipation for a positive decision from the judge of the New York State Supreme Court.

Please visit the website of the Committee to Save Cooper Union to learn more.


New York/No Such Thing As Was


An interview in Joe Bonomo’s blog No Such Thing As Was.

I want to engage and provoke, but not preach. I want people to overlay their own mental maps of the city onto mine, and in the process look at things differently, see things freshly, re-examine their relationship to the familiar. The story in these pictures is yours as much as it is mine.



New York/Out with the Old, In with the New


It has been two years and one month since I released Time and Space on the Lower East Side. The trade edition of the book is now “sold out.” Approximately 1,000 copies sold. There are still a few books floating around in stores, and I know that my gallery still has some. Anyone who wants a copy should contact me directly, and I will see what I can do to find one for you.

The limited edition is still available. It comes in a slipcover with an 8×10 print inside. $250. The limited edition can be ordered here.

After a couple of years of promoting Time and Space, it’s sad to see it go. At the same time, however, my new book Metamorphosis: Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013 is now available. The books arrived last week, and I am now busy sending them out to Kickstarter backers and those who pre-ordered. Metamorphosis can be order here.

The two books together make a great set, and in another couple of years, I hope to come out with a third — WTC — photographs of the World Trade Center from 1978 to the present.

Last week’s opening at Dillon Gallery was a success despite rainy weather. The exhibit of my Meatpacking District photographs will be up through August 15. Don’t miss the chance to see these stunning 4×5 foot prints.


New York/Slide Talk

Sponsored by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. A slide talk and presentation of my book (shipment arriving any day now). I will, at the very least, have a copy or two at the event. Be sure to reserve seats. These GVSHP programs fill up quickly.

GVSHP website

Photos of Gansevoort Market / Meatpacking District by Brian Rose

Wednesday, July 9
6:30 – 8:00 P.M.
Free; reservations required
Washington Square Institute
41 East 11th Street, near University Place


In the winter of 1985 Brian Rose spent several days wandering the streets of the Meatpacking District with his 4×5 view camera. It was different city then; edgier and less peopled. While the Meatpacking District bustled in the early morning hours as the city’s primary meat market, it slumbered, almost abandoned, during the day. He never printed those photographs of the Meatpacking District, and went on to other projects. But last year he retrieved the box of negatives from his archive and began scanning. He was stunned to rediscover these images, made with little artifice, unforced in their clarity. It was like looking at New York as a stage set while the actors were away taking a break.

In the summer and fall of last year he re-photographed the Meatpacking District, repeating many of the earlier images and making a number of new ones. The result is this new book, Metamorphosis, that shows the profound transformation of the neighborhood. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

To register, please call (212) 475-9585 or email.
GVSHP website



New York/The Book!

metamorphosis_coverFinished book cover — © Brian Rose

Have just received two copies of the completed book sent by FedEx from the printer in Hong Kong. The rest of the books are en route by ship, on schedule for an early July delivery. All I can say is that the book looks stunning. If you’d like to pre-order go here.

On Friday I was in the lab printing for my upcoming exhibition.

metamorphosis_printSteve, the technician at Beth Schiffer Creative Darkroom, rolling prints as they come off the machine.
© Brian Rose

The book launch and exhibition opening will be July 15th at Dillon Gallery on W25th Street in Chelsea, just a few blocks north of the Meatpacking District. There will be 12 images in the show, each printed at 4×5 feet. An invitation will be sent out later.

This is all pretty exciting!


New York/Final Proofs

f+gMetamorphosis F&Gs — © Brian Rose

This is the last step. Up till now I’ve been looking at digital proofs, which give a rough idea of color and density. Yesterday, we received the F&Gs, folded and gathered signatures off the actual press. They look spectacular!

The books are now on the press being printed, and I expect to get several copies FedExed to me from Hong Kong in the next week or so. The rest of the books will come the slow way by ship and will arrive at the beginning of July.

It’s been a remarkable experience doing this book. Rediscovering the negatives made in 1985. Scanning them. Showing the images around. Rephotographing the neighborhood. Sequencing the photos and designing the book. And then, getting it printed. All in less than a year and a half. Whew!



New York/Meatpacking District


An article in Société Perrier about my upcoming book Metamorphosis: Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013. Written by Jim Allen who is branching out a bit from his usual music beat. 

I approved the final proof of the cover last Tuesday, and expect to have books in a few weeks. Unfortunately, it will be a small shipment sent by air. The rest of the books will travel by boat from Hong Kong, and will take a number of weeks. So, we’re still looking at July for the release of the book.



New York/Kickstarter Success


The Kickstarter campaign for my Meatpacking book is now over with 163% of my goal reached. Now we can take that posh vacation in the Caribbean that we’ve been dreaming about all through this — barely over — snowy winter in New York.

No, no, no. Just a joke. The money raised only pays for part of the production of the book. We’re still stuck here in this, so far, shivery spring, as baseball season begins, with lots of work to do to make this book a success.

The good news is that over 250 books have been sold out of a first printing of 1,000. And the book hasn’t yet shipped from Hong Kong. That’s a spectacular start. My 210 Kickstarter backers came from all over the world — in fact, 25% of them were from outside of the United States. It proves what I’ve been saying all along, that books like this about New York City have a potential reach far beyond the sometimes parochial view of things here in this little burg.

There are a lot of people to thank for helping make this Kickstarter campaign successful, particularly Jeremiah Moss, who wrote the foreword to the book, and got things rolling with a terrific post on his blog Vanishing New York. A number of other blogs picked up on the story including Bowery Boogie, Curbed, Untapped New York, Reciprocity-Failure, and the Swiss news/entertainment site Watson.

I’ll be providing details later, but mark your calendars. Exhibition opening and book launch, July 15th, Dillon Gallery, West 25th Street in Chelsea, just a few blocks north of the Meatpacking District.



New York/Bowery Boogie


An interview in the blog, Bowery Boogie.

BB: What do you hope people will take away from Metamorphosis?

BR: More than anything I hope that people will learn to see what is around them and in front of them everyday – the city hidden in plain sight.

Read the whole thing here.


New York/Goal Reached — Again

metamorphosis_backcoverMetamorphosis: Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013, back cover image — © Brian Rose 1985

Reached my Kickstarter goal — again. Yesterday, I announced that I had succeeded in my fundraising goal, and began receiving congratulations. But within a few minutes, a $500 backer cancelled his pledge, which I didn’t even know you could do. My moment of triumph was coldly snatched away. Do you think people do things like this on purpose? Anyway, I was not too worried that I’d make up the lost ground soon.

So, a little muted cheer for the second time around. The balloons have already been released, the champagne uncorked and flat, and the band disbanded — except for the tuba player. Blurp Blurp.

Thanks once more to all my supporters. Keep the momentum going. There are still 13 days to go.


New York/Book Proofs

cover_proof_smallCover mockup of Metamorphosis: Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013

At 65% of my Kickstarter goal with almost three weeks to go!

Metamorphosis is no longer an abstraction. Yesterday, I saw the first proofs of the cover and the inside pages. They look terrific. The book in the photo above is actually a proof print of the cover wrapped around a  blank dummy of the book. The blank let’s us see and feel the weight of the cover boards, paper, and the overall heft of the book. We placed it next to a copy of Time and Space on the Lower East Side for comparison. The red pages are the endpapers that line the inside of the front and back covers.

It’s exciting seeing the book turn into a reality. But your support is needed now as the financial reality of taking on this project looms. Pre-order via Kickstarter and get your copy of Metamorphosis at a discounted price. It’s going to be a really cool book.






New York/Kickstarter Campaign

metamorphosis-cover_700pxFinal Cover Design for Metamorphosis: Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013

Please help make this book a reality.

In the winter of 1985 I spent several days wandering the streets of the Meatpacking District with my 4×5 view camera. It was different city then. Edgier, less peopled. While the Meatpacking District bustled in the early morning hours as the city’s primary meatmarket, it slumbered, almost abandoned, during the day.

I never printed my photographs of the Meatpacking District, and went on to other projects. But last year I retrieved the box of negatives from my archive and began scanning. I was stunned to rediscover these images, made with little artifice, unforced in their clarity. It was like looking at New York as a stage set while the actors were away taking a break.

In the summer and fall of last year I re-photographed the Meatpacking District repeating many of the earlier images and making a number of new ones. The result is a book that shows the profound transformation of the neighborhood from abottoir to the epicenter of fashion and art.



New York/Meatpacking District

metamorphosis-cover_700pxMetamorphosis, Meatpacking District 1985+2013 — © Brian Rose

As I wrote earlier, my book about the Meatpacking District is well underway. Above is the cover featuring a photograph of Washington Street from 1985. It is, in many ways, a companion to Time and Space on the Lower East Side. Metamorphosis will be the same size with similar binding and layout, though we have pushed the graphic design a little bit more on this one.

Time and Space was a complex look at a large neighborhood with many interwoven visual and thematic threads. Metamorphosis is a tighter concept — 18 before/after views and 14 new images of this relatively compact neighborhood, all made with a 4×5 view camera. As before, I shot color film, and have scanned and color corrected the images in Photoshop.

The whole project (aside from the pictures made in 1985) was done in a very short time frame — less than six months — giving the book an immediacy that I think is rare. There is no way something like this could be done with most established publishers, who normally need long lead times and require much collaborative deliberation. Publishers often promote this aspect of book making, and I think overvalue their role in what often should be an artist/photographer’s unmediated statement. It depends, of course, on the circumstances, and many fine photo books have been made with only modest input from the photographer.

That’s not to say that this book was done without collaboration. I worked with Bill Diodato, photographer and publisher, and a small team of technical/design mavens. It has been a fruitful partnership.

As with Time and Space on the Lower East Side I will need to do a Kickstarter campaign to help cover the cost of printing. The economics of doing photo books like this are difficult. The barriers to success, from production to distribution, are high. But this will be my fifth book, and I have a good deal of experience at this point, and know how to make it all work.

Stay tuned for the next step.





New York/Colorful Past

There’s been lots of discussion about whether Inside Llewyn Davis by the Coen brothers is an Oscar-worthy masterpiece or a dismal failure. Whatever the case, I’d like to briefly touch on the look of the film. The story takes place in 1961 Greenwich Village and the main character wanders the streets and cafes of the area, familiar terrain to those of us who were a part of the folk scene in New York. My participation came much later, the late ’70s and early ’80s, but even today, the look and feel of the place has changed very little.

INSIDE-LLEWELYN-DAVISA scene from Inside Llewyn Davis, East 2nd Street

To my eye, the neighborhood is a richly colorful landscape, in parts beautiful, in other parts tawdry. McDougal and Bleecker Streets where the folk scene was centered remains a tourist district with mediocre restaurants and cheap gift shops. But there’s also Porto Rico coffee, Caffe Dante, and Mamoun’s falafel, places that have survived decades. Even Ben’s Pizza is still there in all its fluorescent and formica glory. Caffe Dante was where I used to hang out with Suzanne Vega and Jack Hardy plotting to shake up the world with our songs. It’s still great for atmosphere, but the coffee at Third Rail a couple of blocks away is on a different level. But I digress.

People have criticized Inside Llewyn Davis for portraying the folk scene as a ghostly shadow of its true self. Suzanne Vega called the movie “brown and sad.” The movie, indeed, is visually muted and dark. The Coen’s obviously filtered the color giving it that old color look–like an Instagram filter.


But the past is only Instagrammed in our minds Or in prints and slides that have faded and color shifted over the years. When Dave Van Ronk–who the movie is sort of, but not really about–and Bob Dylan inhabited the neighborhood in the early ’60s the look of the place was undoubtedly as brightly hued as it is today.  My guess is that the Coens and their art director were inspired in part by the iconic photograph on the cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan where he and Suzy Rotolo walked down the center of Jones Street on a snowy thinly lit day.

One can argue that the Coens wanted to remove their movie from the present and give it a dreamy long ago quality. But at this point, color filters are an overused device. Moody, slanting light streaming through windows, has also become a cliche supposedly evoking the past. Think of Spielberg’s Lincoln.

In my book Time and Space on the Lower East I tried to make the point that the past and present are  not mutually exclusive realities. They are part of a continuum of experience. They are both here now in vivid color. And the sky on a sunny day is blue.

e4thEast 4th Street 1980 — © Brian Rose/Ed Fausty





New York/Meatpacking District

princelumberNinth Avenue and West 15th Street (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

My Meatpacking book is now in production, and I’m working with the same publishing team as the last time led by Bill Diodato. It will have 50 images–about 40 of them before/afters (1985/2013) and the rest will be newly made images. The picture above is one of the new ones. Although the original set of photographs made in 1985 were not an attempt at comprehensively describing the neighborhood, they did in fact hit many of the key spots. The High Line, in its two incarnations as the abandoned rail viaduct and high concept park/promenade, will be a strong presence in the series.

The working title is:

Meatpacking District 1985/2013

I am hoping for external funding for the book, and hope to have some idea of that soon. I raised money on Kickstarter for Time and Space on the Lower East Side, and I may have to do it again for this book. Aside from the money, Kickstarter is a good way to generate interest for a project and build momentum. But doing it is a lot of work, and I’d be happy to avoid it this go round.