When the Twin Towers were destroyed on September 11, 2001, a small Greek Orthodox church, St. Nicholas, was obliterated by the falling debris. A replacement church designed by Santiago Calatrava is now under construction a short distance from the original structure. I snapped the picture above returning from an appointment at the 9/11 Museum offices. My book, WTC, will soon be available in the museum shop.
The original church served a small congregation just south of the WTC on Cedar Street. The building, converted from earlier use as a tavern, stood alone on a parking lot. Photographers were fond of tilting up at the cross with the Twin Tower rising above. It was a perspective that Edward Fausty and I avoided when we made our picture back in 1981.
An article and portfolio of my photographs from WTC on Untapped Cities, a web journal about New York City.
WTC is book about the Twin Towers, their presence and absence, and the rebuilding of the city after September 11.
It is also a tribute to New Yorkers and all who carry a piece of the great city with them. It is a book that commemorates rather than exploits, a book that preserves memories, both painful and hopeful, and celebrates, however cautiously, the resilience of this city in the face of adversity.
This is what 2,000 books looks like when stacked nine boxes high. 169 boxes in all. Your first thought when they arrive is — what have I done?! — and then they fit exactly as determined weeks ago when they were on a container ship slowly making their way to New York. So, no surprises.
The moment of truth is here. Please join me for the book launch in Cooper Union’s Great Hall. I will be doing a slide talk, taking questions, and there will be a reception afterwards with books available for purchase and signing. See you there!
WTC Book Launch
September 8, 6:30pm
The Great Hall
7 East 7th Street
New York City
This is it folks. Advance copies of WTC have arrived from the printer, and — what can I say — the book is stunning. The original design for the cover had the letters WTC dissolving into a close-up of the skin of one of the Twin Towers, symbolic of their disappearance and ghostly presence. But we decided to go with silver reflective letters that almost float above the matte background. The effect is stronger, more iconic. It is simple, elegant, and I think, powerful.
The spine and endpapers are a cool blue, taken from wedge of sky seen between the Twin Towers in one of the images. The photographs and text blocks are a consistent scale with white borders throughout except for the bleed images that break up the different sections. This is a book to be read — both the writing and the imagery.
I am very proud of WTC. It is the third in a trilogy of books about New York City. It is the culmination of a lifetime of observing the urban landscape and architecture, the center stage for human endeavor. It is a story both personal and shared — this great city and the tragedy that befell it 15 years ago. It is an attempt to honor and commemorate even in this moment of public vulgarity and corrosive discourse.
The official release of WTC is September 8th. I will be providing more information about the launch later. In the meantime, the book can be pre-ordered on my website.
It may look a little sloppy, but the loose pages shown in the photo above are actual offset printed pages for my forthcoming book, WTC. These are the so-called F&Gs (folded and gathered) straight off the press and air freighted from Hong Kong to New York for approval.
The quality of the printing is stunning, and I am expecting to receive a small number of bound books in the next couple of weeks. The rest of the books will be shipped by boat and should arrive by the end of August, in time for the book launch on September 8th. More information on that soon.
Today is the last day of my Kickstarter campaign, and the big news (at least for me) is that I have decided to print 2,000 copies of WTC instead of the 1,000 originally planned. Time and Space on the Lower East Side is sold out, and Metamorphosis is down to the last 200 copies. So, it made sense to print more this time. There are serious financial reasons for and against bumping the print run up to 2,000 — it costs more upfront, but gives me a much lower per unit cost. And the larger number of books require more storage space.
Everything is happening fast, and yesterday, the final proofs came in from the printer for approval. Above is the cover — front, back, and spine — and in the upper right are thread samples for the sewn binding. The letters WTC are reflective silver.
Most of the pages were already approved several weeks ago, but several needed to be tweaked for color or density. The image above is a particularly difficult one because it is a back-lit scene, almost monochromatic, and any change shows in the neutral tones. The print at the top right is my reference C print, and the other two are proofs from the printer.
Each of my books in this series — a New York trilogy — come in either the trade edition or limited edition. The limited book comes with an 8×10 inch print tipped in on the inside of the back cover, and it is housed in a slipcover box. For WTC I chose a dark grey linen slipcover with reflective silver lettering. The three books in their slipcovers can be seen above. The magenta one is Time and Space on the Lower East Side, and the middle one in a Kraft paper slipcover is Metamorphosis, Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013.
The slipcover for WTC is really beautiful.
We are on target for a September 8th release of WTC. There will be more information about it later, but the plan is a slide talk and book signing in New York at Cooper Union in the Great Hall.
I was a student in 1977, a newcomer to the city I had long dreamed of making my own. I walked all around lower Manhattan with a Nikkormat 35mm camera, a brilliantly stripped down camera made by Nikon, shooting color slide film. I was discovering New York, and at the same time, exploring the potential of color photography, which was still in its infancy.
On a trip across the Staten Island Ferry I caught the scene above — a brief interaction — a high-heeled woman and a man in a suit — like a film still. I shot two frames quickly, similar to each other, this one with the Twin Towers framed in a window echoed by the vertical elements of the ferry, the gap of sky, the yellow pole,
This photograph, and a number of others from the ’70s, introduce my book, WTC, a 40 year visual history of New York in which the Twin Towers — their destruction — and the rebuilding — play a central role. It is a personal narrative set against a historical backdrop of epic scale. It is a commemoration, a reflection, and a tribute to New Yorkers and all who carry a piece of this great city with them.
A great article and interview about WTC in CityLab, The Atlantic’s web zine about urban affairs.
Mark Byrnes writes:
…most who page through WTC will contemplate Manhattan’s relentless transformation since a turbulent and mythologized 1970s. Change has come through economic shifts, public policy decisions, and tragedy. Rose’s work provides a clear, visual understanding of what the city has lost and gained through it all.
I am now at 26% of my Kickstarter goal. On target, but only if I can keep up the same pace for the next three weeks. I don’t have any big donors to count on. This is about individuals who are willing to step up and support artists and projects they care about. Small amounts add up. Please participate at whatever level of support you are comfortable with.
I was downtown the other day on business unrelated to my WTC book project, and snapped the image above. It’s a construction fence with a printed photograph of the skyline. In the rear are the ribs of the transportation center, which is now open to the public, although with limited access. There is only one entrance through the lobby of 4 WTC on Liberty Street.
Yesterday, a North Carolina middle school choir singing the Star Spangled Banner at the 9/11 memorial was stopped by a security guard — you are supposed to have a permit. A couple of thoughts. How strange that a school group would travel all the way to New York to sing the National Anthem — uninvited — at the 9/11 memorial. And how weird that they chose the official anthem of the United States, as opposed to, say, a hymn like America or God Bless America. Did they expect everyone to stop and pay respect to the Anthem as they sat on benches eating their lunches or crossing the plaza to get to the Path Train?
Clearly, the group from North Carolina, like many visiting the memorial, have a very different idea of the site’s meaning than those who live and work in the area. And finally, what crazy sense of duty would compel a security guard to interrupt the singing of the National Anthem on the plaza for lack of a performance permit.
Whatever happened to the Freedom Tower? That is what former Governor George Partaki called One World Trade Center when it was still an architectural concept. And if you wander through the crowds of tourists downtown, you will still hear people refer to David Child’s 1,776 foot tall skyscraper as the Freedom Tower. The Port Authority, however, abandoned that name years ago, and few New Yorkers seem inclined to use it.
One section of my forthcoming book WTC is comprised of vernacular images of the Twin Towers — posters, murals,and graffiti. And there are books and photographs for sale in the street, many of which graphically show the destruction of the Trade Center. It has been 15 years, but helped by constant visual reminders, the Twin Towers remain fixed in the mind’s eye. Images of One World Trade, however, are harder to find.
One World Trade — or Freedom Tower — was envisioned by some as a patriotic gesture, not just real estate. Some might argue that in New York City real estate and patriotism go hand in hand. Whatever the case, One World Trade Center has only slowly begun to achieve the iconic status of its progenitors, the Twin Towers. Maybe it never will. So, I was stopped in my tracks yesterday while walking through the Bronx. There on the ground was a pizza box with One World Trade and an enormous American flag printed in red white and blue. The Freedom Tower lives…perhaps.
And then in Brooklyn — there it is again — standing tall in support of Bernie.
I’ve been showing a cover mockup for WTC that has dull gray lettering — looks good, but not inspiring. Yesterday, we got the cover proof with silver foil stamped onto a matte background. The result is, in my opinion, stunning. The letters WTC appear almost to float in air.
The rear cover will have another of the images from my WTC Frieze, comprised of close-ups of the steel piping of the Twin Towers’ skin. The spine of the book will be blue — a somewhat brighter blue than shown above — as will the endpapers inside the cover. The correct blue can be seen below.
The final cover design is something I’ve been playing with in recent years as the overall concept of the book came together. When I would talk to publishing people, they would almost always say, it looks nice, but of course, we’ll need a regular photograph on the cover. My artist and photography friends told me to stick to my guns.
WTC is book about the Twin Tower, their presence and absence, and about the rebuilding of the city after September 11. It is also a tribute to New Yorkers and all who carry a piece of this great city with them. It is a book that commemorates rather than exploits, a book that preserves memories, both painful and hopeful, and celebrates, however cautiously, the resilience of this city in the face of adversity.
A photograph made underneath the FDR Drive in 1981 in the area of the Fulton Fish Market. Early in the morning the area under the highway would have been busy with trucks and all the hustle and bustle of the market. Later in the day, like in the Meatpacking District, the storefronts were shuttered and the streets relatively devoid of people. The Twin Towers loom in the distance.
This is one of the photographs in my upcoming book WTC. Please consider supporting the book on Kickstarter. Thanks.
Brian Rose in 1980 on the Lower East Side — Photo by Edward Fausty
A little indulgence on my birthday — a photograph of myself made in 1980 while doing the Lower East Side project with Edward Fausty. We were out shooting with the 4×5 view camera, and Ed took this picture. I was 25 years old. Looking very determined and focused.
WTC, my book about the World Trade Center, is now complete. It starts with pictures made when I was 22, and comes all the way up to the present. All the pieces are in place, the last being a wonderful essay written by Sean Corcoran, the photo curator of the Museum of the City of New York. I will be launching a Kickstarter campaign on April 17, which will then run about a month. Stay tuned.
Sean writes about the way in which the book came together:
Looking through his archive recently, he realized he had created something very profound and personal that he needed to assemble and share. Serving as a form of personal catharsis, Rose’s words and pictures reflect on the nature of tragedy, remembrance and resilience. He never obtained special access to photograph from particular vantage points, but rather he stood amongst New Yorkers and captured views from the sidewalks they tread every day.
An update on my forthcoming book WTC, the completion of my New York trilogy:
This has been the most difficult book I’ve worked on. Spanning five decades, different bodies of work, different formats — 4×5 film, 35mm slides, digital. It a slice of history, both personal and public. And while the book pivots on September 11th, it is not a book about that event per se . It attempts, rather, to embody the nature of New York City; to locate the city in our shared cultural consciousness. It is a story told not so much through my interactions with people, but through my perception of the city as architecture, street, and as a grand stage for human endeavor.
Text is integral to the book, and I’ve worked very hard to make it descriptive and poetic. The narrative is essentially chronological, but it takes various twists and turns. Some may find these discursive elements confusing, but to me they are what makes the book conceptually more interesting and challenging. There is a cinematic logic to the flow of the narrative.
In a few weeks I will be launching a Kickstarter campaign, and it is critical that I raise a significant percentage of the production costs. This will be the third book working with Bill Diodato of Golden Section Publishing. As before, I’m self distributing. Let me tell you, doing this is scary as hell. But I know it will be a success. I hope you will be there to help make WTC a reality.