Category Archives: Lower Manhattan

New York/Liberty Island

liberty08Liberty Island, superintendent’s house (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

liberty02Liberty Island, superintendent’s house (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

After finishing with photography of the Statue of Liberty a couple of weeks ago, I set up my view camera and walked around the perimeter of the island. I was looking, in particular, for views of 1 World Trade Center that might go in my upcoming book WTC. One of the peculiarities of being on Liberty Island is that you can’t get back far enough from the statue to really see it well, and getting it and the skyline of New York together isn’t possible. But I found several views toward the city quite compelling nevertheless.

Two of them were in and around the superintendent’s house on the back side of Liberty Island. Renovation work on the Statue of Liberty was actually complete last October, and the island opened for visitors. For one day. Hurricane Sandy hit New York on October 29th flooding Liberty Island, knocking out power to the statue, and damaging various infrastructure and support buildings, including the superintendent’s house. The cleanup took months, and the statue was just reopened on July 4th.

My understanding is that the house will be torn down — it is part of a small complex of buildings of little architectural or historic importance. I found the house just beyond the contractor’s trailers sitting abandoned and exposed to the elements. I did one picture in front looking toward Lower Manhattan, and another in the living room looking toward a picture window framing a view of the skyline, a ruined piano and couch in the foreground.

Reminders of the vulnerability of New York, natural or otherwise.



New York/Lower East Side

Join me for the opening of The Yard, a new co-working space on the Lower East Side. I will be showing a large portion of the work exhibited in March at Dillon Gallery. If you missed the show at Dillon, this is your second chance. The 4×5 foot prints look spectacular. I’ll be there with books to sign.

The Yard is located on the corner directly opposite the Tenement Museum shop, and across Delancey Street from the corner that I photographed in 1980 and 2010. Hope to see you there.



6:00PM – 8:00PM


The Lower East Side’s new space to work presents celebrates the history and future of one of New York’s most vibrant neighborhoods. Enjoy food, drinks, music, and art representing the best of yesterday and today.

Featuring the photography of Brian Rose from his book Time and Space on the Lower East Side.

Ice Cream Sandwiches by Melt Bakery
Photobooth by The Majestic Photobooth Company
Beer by Brooklyn Brewery
Wine by September Wines
Music by Mr. Gibbons

Special thanks to Lower East Side BID, Motivated Foods, and Pressler Collaborative

New York/WTC

rapeze School, Pier 40 — © Brian Rose

Yesterday, I took my view camera to Pier 40, the former passenger ship dock at the western end of Houston Street. The pier is now being used as a sports facility, and I’ve been there many times for my son’s baseball games. On the roof of the building there is a soccer field and a trapeze school. I’ve had my eye on the roof for some time for a photograph of One World Trade Center, which is nearing completion, and rises impressively in the background. I am currently looking for shots of the tower to complete my book WTC, which I plan to publish next year.

It was a beautiful warm afternoon and I arrived around 6:30, setting up my camera just inside the gate, and doing a series of pictures over the course of 45 minutes. The staff was very friendly, and I appreciate their allowing access to the space. What I wanted was a shot looking downtown with the trapeze apparatus in the foreground, preferably with someone in the air to the left. Everything came together nicely. The photo above was made with my pocket camera placed directly on top of the view camera. So, just about the same shot. The view camera exposures were probably a bit longer (1/60th of a second at f16.5), so we’ll see later how much the figures on the trapeze are blurred.

This could make a good closing image for the book.


New York/Post-Sandy

Grand Street, Soho — © Brian Rose

There’s hope in sight with ConEd’s Twitter statement that power should be back on in lower Manhattan Friday or Saturday. Although Halloween was essentially cancelled, things were still pretty spooky in the zombie zone between “Psycho path and Boo lvd ( see above).”  Stoplights are not working, which means that pedestrians and cars are playing a potentially lethal game of chicken. Food is scarce, and downtowners wander in search of a charge for their phones. On the one hand it’s mostly about temporary inconveniences–on the other hand there are numerous elderly and disabled people stuck in high rises. As I understand it, volunteers are going door-to-door checking on people, bringing water and other supplies. Meanwhile, uptown, everything is open and people are shopping.

And a pet peeve: I hate, hate, hate, seeing all the artsy faux film instagram pictures of hurricane damage.

New York/Aftermath

Soho after Hurricane Sandy — © Brian Rose

The thing that isn’t adequately coming out in the media is that unless power is restored to lower Manhattan soon, there will be humanitarian ramifications to deal with. There are no stores or restaurants open downtown below 25th Street. No supermarkets–only a few bodegas and/or delis, which do not have working refrigeration or the ability to replenish stock. The subways are not running. The streets are utterly dark at night, and elevators are not working.

For young, healthy individuals, this is all just a major inconvenience. Above 25th, the city is bustling. But for thousands of elderly, less mobile people, the situation is undoubtedly getting dire.




New York/Photoville

Williamsburg, Brooklyn — © Brian Rose


Williamsburg, Brooklyn — © Brian Rose


Brooklyn Bridge Park — © Brian Rose

Photoville, a photo fair/expo located in a not yet finished section of Brooklyn Bridge Park is comprised of two main parts–printed images on vinyl running along a chain link fence, and a cluster of shipping containers that act as galleries. The containers in the photo above aren’t actually part of Photoville, but are nearby.


Photoville fence, photo by Timoth Fadek — © Brian Rose

The fence works well, facing west and getting full afternoon light. Many of the photographs chosen by a jury were excellent, and I was happy to see that each photographer was given a chance to show a series of images. The containers, however, were dark and uninviting in the extremely bright and warm sunshine. Even though it was relatively pleasant summer afternoon, the little village of containers and tents fairly baked under the sun.


Photoville fence, photos by Jeffrey Stockbridge — © Brian Rose


Photoville fence, photos by Peter Andrew Lusztyk —  © Brian Rose


Brooklyn Bridge Park — © Brian Rose

I could imagine an entire exhibition done with photographs printed on vinyl in different sizes mounted on lengths of chain link fencing. Something with a bit more visual dynamic given the visual drama just opposite, seen in the image above.


New York/Lower Manhattan

Brooklyn Battery Tunnel entrance — © Brian Rose

David Dunlop in the New York Times City Room column this morning writes about being stopped by MTA security guards while photographing a bus depot in Brooklyn:

The search for lost history leads to odd spots sometimes, like Second Avenue, between 126th and 127th Streets, once the site of William Randolph Hearst’s Cosmopolitan-International movie studio. It is now home to the 126th Street Bus Depot, and that’s what I was taking a picture of last week — from the sidewalk across the avenue — when a property protection agent with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority approached me.

You can’t take pictures of transit facilities, he told me, politely but firmly.

It reminds me of the time I was in East Berlin in 1987 before the Wall came down looking for surviving examples of early 20th century architecture to photograph. At one point, looking for a housing project clearly shown on my map, I found myself standing–with my 4×5 view camera–in front of an enormous complex of buildings with video cameras mounted on the facades–not a common sight in the ’80s. Suddenly, uniformed guards began shouting and approaching. I ducked downstairs into a nearby subway station and made a clean getaway. Later, I realized that I had accidentally stumbled upon the East German Stasi headquarters, the secret police. I was lucky to have escaped.

The truth is I had been photographing for days all over East Berlin using my big camera without being accosted by the many “people’s police” who seemed to be everywhere. Such indifference is not the case in New York City in 2012. Despite recent clarifications of the law and the specific rules regarding photography in public places, I am routinely told by private security guards, police officers, and uncredentialed busy bodies that photography is not permitted. It is, in fact, allowed–even in the subways and buses.

But things are not so simple. A few days ago I took my camera to Lower Manhattan and did a number of photographs relating to my ongoing documentation of the World Trade Center, specifically the rise of 1 WTC, which is replacing the Twin Towers. It was a good day. No one stopped me. In the photograph above I was standing on a pedestrian bridge crossing over the entrance to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. I suspect that I was in an area under the jurisdiction of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a public/private authority with its own set of rules. They have stopped me in the past when I made photographs near the Holland Tunnel entrance.

Greenwich Street — © Brian Rose

In the picture above I was standing in a small public plaza adjacent to the tunnel entrance decorated with planters that were probably intended originally for security purposes. The city is littered with such barriers–mostly ugly and obviously ineffective. My guess is that the plaza is under the jurisdiction of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, which has its own rules governing photography and the use of tripods.

Vesey Street — © Brian Rose

And in the photograph above I was standing in the Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City under the jurisdiction of the Battery Park City Authority which has its own rules regarding photography and tripods. Another photograph I tried to do recently was from the steps leading up to the Borough of Manhattan Community College which has jurisdiction over its open plaza–I was stopped by a friendly security guard–and another I made was from the Hudson River Park, which is under the jurisdiction of yet another public/private organization. I have no idea what their rules are. Additionally, there are dozens of public plazas that are actually privately owned, the result of crazy zoning deals that award developers with extra floor space in exchange for creating a public amenity. These spaces, like the recently occupied Zuccotti Park, exist in an ever growing twilight zone of public access under private control.

Most of the organizations that have jurisdiction over these spaces are benign in their intentions, but the result, nevertheless, is that they have ultimate control over our public commons and our city. Are we fast becoming a police state?

Update: George Will, of all people, defends photographers’ rights here in the Washington Post.

New York/WTC

Park Place — © Brian Rose

Friday evening I walked down to the World Trade Center with an invitation to the 48th floor of 7 WTC, the first completed structure in the rebuilding post 9/11. Silverstein Properties, the owner, has made the 48th floor available as an artists’ studio, though soon the occupants will have to make way for a paying tenant.

7 WTC, 48th Floor, painting by Marcus Robinson — © Brian Rose

The entire floor was unpartitioned and open with raw concrete floor, exposed fire proofed steel beams, and wrap around floor to ceiling windows with stunning views. At least four artists were on display including Marcus Robinson who is a painter and videographer. His time lapse images of the rebuilding of the World Trade Center were shown on a large video screen.

Paintings by Todd Stone — © Brian Rose

Another artist, Todd Stone, had a gallery-like exhibition of his paintings on one side of the floor documenting 9/11 as seen from his Tribeca studio. I usually don’t like to see images of the horror of 9/11 itself, but these were done as a spontaneous reaction to what was happening a short distance away, the paint somehow distancing the event while at the same time heightening the attention to it in a way that photographs do not.

View of 9/11 memorial — © Brian Rose

I took a few photographs through the windows, one looking down on the memorial–glass reflections unavoidable.  Stone has been doing paintings of the rebuilding, and he was working on one of the 1 WTC while I was there. I spoke with him for several minutes, and I traded one of my WTC books for one of his exhibition catalogues.

Painting by Todd Stone

Snow scene from the 48th floor with Diebenkorn-ish colors.

1 WTC model — © Brian Rose

A model of 1 WTC stood on the south end of the 48th floor adjacent to the real thing going up outside the window. The late afternoon sun just caught the translucent plastic of the model giving it a golden glow. The actual tower will never appear so crystalline I am afraid, despite its faceted exterior. But we shall see…



New York/WTC

Greenwich Street near the World Trade Center  (4×5 negative) — © Brian Rose

I’ve been catching up on scanning recent 4×5 negatives from the Bowery and the World Trade Center, my two current projects. The image above was made a few months ago and was taken a couple of blocks from ground zero. A fence displays the list of names of those killed on 9/11–The Heroes of September 11, 2001 it reads–and the steel containers behind hold contractor offices or equipment storage related to the nearby construction site. The names are now found at the completed 9/11 memorial, etched in stone.

Closeup from image above — © Brian Rose

It is an image that I find particularly satisfying–the multiplicity of layers, materials, colors–a telling detail, the 9/11 list, that gives larger context and raison d’etre. The emptiness of the streets seems almost unreal in such a densely built place. It’s not a photograph I’d likely take with a small camera–or at least thinking through the medium of a small camera. It is an image made with the assumption that details will read even when printed large, or especially when printed large. The computer screen gives only an impression of what would be there in a higher resolution print.

Please click through to larger images.



New York/Lower East Side

Time and Space is now largely done–I am still tweaking the images–and we are working on the last details of the layout. The book is based on the Blurb prototype that is still available, but with a more refined design and a tighter edit of the photographs. The new Time and Space will be larger (about 9×12 inches) and and will sell for a lower price. There will be a limited edition slipcover version of the book with an original print inside, which will be really beautiful and well worth collecting.

This is the final week of my Kickstarter campaign, and I am just over 50% of the way to my goal. This is your last chance to participate in this project by making a donation–at whatever level you are comfortable with. A donation of $50 gets you a copy of the book as soon as it is available, and $250 gets you the limited edition book. I have received several donations of $10, which makes me very happy. Some people have very tight budgets, but enjoy going on Kickstarter and sprinkling money around to projects they find worth supporting. I have donated to another project myself and plan to do more.

Please join in–your help is appreciated and needed. Thanks!

New York/WTC

Broadway and Cedar Street — © Brian Rose

I went downtown yesterday to add more photographs to my ongoing WTC series. I took the 4×5 view camera, which now requires carrying individual holders for the film instead of the pre-packaged paper envelopes that I used for about 15 years. Both Fujifilm and Kodak have dropped those from the lineup, now that digital is pre-eminent, and Fuji has stopped making 4×5 film across the board.

I took the subway to Wall Street and walked a block or two up to Zuccotti Park, the primary location of Occupy Wall Street, the protest movement that has spawned similar actions in other cities across the country. I went with the intention of including the demonstration in some of my photographs, but not to attempt to document it per se. After all, the place is crawling with photojournalists and the media in general.  My approach, as usual, is more of a meta-documentation of events as they intersect with my main task, photographing around ground zero and the rising towers, particularly 1 WTC. More than once, other photographers looked at my equipment and referred to me as “a real photographer.”

From across Broadway I could readily see the police presence on the periphery of Zuccotti Park–various barriers and cones directed traffic on the street–which continued to flow unimpeded. Every few moments a double decker red tour bus would pass by the park and tourists’ heads would swivel in the direction of the demonstration. I set up my camera on Broadway and did a photograph looking toward the park with a brilliantly red Mark DiSuvero sculpture towering over it. The new glass buildings in the background reflected sky and each other creating a confusing constructivist composition. Red construction hoists slid up and down 4 WTC as if intended to complement the color scheme.

Trinity Place and Liberty Street — © Brian Rose

I only did three or four photographs in and around the park, but I was there about two hours, setting up the camera, and then waiting for things to happen. I talked to a number of people, some active participants, some tourists, others just passing through, but curious to see what was going on. As expected there are plenty of “professional activists,” the people who come to any and every march or protest aimed at established power. So, the casual observer might assume that the crowd is dominated by Marxist anti-U.S. fringe groups.

If this were actually the case, however, this demonstration would have been long over. It’s hard to get a handle on the composition of the crowd, but clearly, it is more diverse than usual for these kinds of things. At one point while I was there a contingent of union hard hats from the WTC construction site paraded through the park carrying an American flag. Another group of perhaps 20 marchers–young people, white and black–circled the park chanting “Stop, stop and frisk!” while almost the same number of NYPD blue shirts strolled along behind pied piper style. This was obviously an adjunct protest to the main Wall Street occupation demonstration. I talked briefly with a construction worker, a British tourist who was concerned about the economic future of Europe, and a person who had come specifically to see for himself what was going on. It’s the interest from outside the core group of demonstrators that seems to give  this rolling event momentum and importance.

I set my camera in the northwest quadrant of the park facing Liberty and Trinity Place with demonstrators and the curious in the foreground, and the sky filled with glass skyscrapers in the background. It was particularly satisfying to put my tripod down right at this spot where I had been accosted by security guards a few years ago who informed me that Zucotti Park–while open to the public 24 hours a day– was, in fact, a private park, and tripods were not allowed. The park–really a paved public square–is the product of  one of these zoning deals New York City is so fond of. Developers get more height or floor area in exchange for creating a public amenity, often of dubious merit. In this case, the park is definitely a welcome amenity among the forest of skyscrapers of lower Manhattan, and the city sees it as a win-win, since they do not have to take care of it–Brookfield, the owner, maintains the space. So, we have a public square which must be open to everyone round the clock, in which tripods are not usually allowed, now occupied by 500 demonstrators and their NYPD chaperones. The irony of it all is delicious.

Cedar Street — © Brian Rose

Speaking of ironies. The crowd in Zuccotti Park is comprised largely of local New Yorkers, many of whom are undoubtedly Jewish as evidenced by a portable Sukkah to honor the current holiday set up among various other tents and tarps. The right wing talking point that Occupy Wall Street is anti-semitic is laughable. The reason they link a Wall Street protest to Jews is because they are under the mistaken notion that the nation’s banks are run by Jews, which is demonstrably untrue–Goldman Sachs not withstanding.

Cedar Street — Brian Rose

From Zucotti Park I walked a short distance down Cedar Street and came to Greenwich with its sweeping view of the construction of the WTC. Dozens of visitors were lined up to enter the 9/11 memorial–which requires obtaining a ticket. I had a long chat with a police officer, a young Asian cop assigned to the WTC who was interested in my project. I did a few photos here before finishing for the day. One World Trade Center is now at least 2/3 of the way up.