Category Archives: World Trade Center

New York/Brooklyn Bridge Park

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.

Please make this book possible with your support on Kickstarter.

New York/Fulton Fish Market

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U
nder the FDR Drive, 1981 — © Brian Rose/Edward Fausty

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.

New York/April 9

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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.

New York/WTC

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Proposed cover of WTC with silver/blue foil lettering — © Brian Rose

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.

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Jersey City, 1977 — © Brian Rose

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.

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Norfolk Street, 2013 — © Brian Rose

New York/Happy New Year!

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One World Trade Center (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

A final punctuation mark for the end of the year, and for my forthcoming book WTC. This was taken with my new Travelwide 4×5 camera. It doesn’t have movements, but it is feather light and can be handheld — though this was made on a tripod.

It’s been a tumultuous year in our household with any number of highs and lows. But the new year is looking bright as it approaches. Bring it on!

New York/Queens

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Borden Avenue under the Long Island Expressway (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

A ghostly image of the Twin Towers in Queens. I did this picture a number of weeks ago, and posted a similar digital image from my point and shoot. This is the 4×5 film version, reduced from a hi res scan of about 700 MBs. The context is hard to grasp from this frame, but the elevated Long Island Expressway was directly above my camera position, and a steady flow of heavy trucks rumbled in front of me. I knew what time to be there for the raking early morning sunlight — there was only an hour of sun each day on the slightly northeast facing facade earlier in the fall. And I didn’t try to do anything fancy.

I’m working on my book, WTC, which will tell the story of the World Trade Center from about 1977 to the present. One section will be comprised of vernacular images of the Twin Towers like the one above. The recent events in Paris (and elsewhere) gives this book project a certain urgency, not that I have any solutions to offer for religious violence or the hyper anxiety currently on display by politicians. This book is offered as an antidote to some of that toxcitity. Stay tuned for further updates.

New York/Twin Towers

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Borden Avenue, Queens — © Brian Rose (digital camera)

Several months ago I spotted a 9/11 mural in an obscure location underneath the Long Island Expressway in Queens. I was driving back from one of my son’s baseball tournaments on Long Island. It took me a while to get back there — in fact, re-finding it was a difficult. But thanks to Google maps I was able to track down the spot.

Using an app on my phone called Helios, I was able to determine exactly what time the light would be best on the mural. So, I went out early in the morning with my view camera, and walked about 15 minutes from the closest station on the #7 line in Long Island City. I couldn’t quite make out the signature at the base of the mural, painted on the side of an auto body shop in this gritty industrial part of Queens. Trucks thundered by as I set up my 4×5 camera under the elevated LIE. (The image above was taken with my digital camera.)

Although I have been calling my World Trade Center book project complete for some time, this seemed like a worthwhile addition to the series. A ghostlike rendering of the Twin Towers surrounded by calligraphic tags. The inscription says: “Dedicated to all the victims of September 11, 2001.” There are, or were, many such murals around the city, but they are gradually fading away.

It’s time to get this book published.

New York/WTC

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Behind the Colgate clock, Jersey City, New Jersey (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

As some of you know, I’ve been working on a book about the World Trade Center for some time. Just before the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I came to the realization that I had in my archive a remarkable series of pictures — made at different times in different formats — that focused on the Twin Towers as a presence ( and absence) on the New York skyline. It was too late to produce a book in conjunction with the anniversary, but I began putting together a dummy based on what I had. And at the same time I continued to make photographs that showed the emergence of the new Trade Center, specifically One WTC, now completed, which stands as tall as the former Twin Towers.

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Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

None of my Twin Towers photographs were ever primarily about the buildings themselves, but rather they were urban landscapes that included the towers as architectural signposts. As the new tower of One WTC rose to fill the hole in the sky left by the destruction of 9/11, I chose to treat it the same way, as part of something, as opposed to an object all by itself. Nevertheless, I did not feel that I had one singular image (or a few) that adequately described the new tower as a prominent architectural expression.

So, when the weather broke earlier in the week, soaring into the 50s, I dashed out with my 4×5 view camera and spent a day stalking One WTC from various vantage points in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Jersey City. Three days later, I’m still a bit sore from the exertion, but it was a great day, and I’m pleased with what I came up with.

There remain many unanswered questions about One WTC. Does it command the skyline as powerfully as the Twin Towers did? Does the design make the kind of iconic statement that many wanted from it? What does it mean to people across the political spectrum — some still insist on calling it “Freedom Tower.” And was it necessary to build it at all? My book will not settle any controversies about the new building, but ending the narrative with several strong images of the tower seemed a necessity in bringing the story around full circle.

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Fulton Street (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

There was a time during the 20th century when the skyline of lower Manhattan had an almost romantic storybook aspect. It was defined by a number of thin towers with spires like the neo-gothic Woolworth Building from 1913 and later, the Art Deco styled Cities Service Building. The first significant disruption to the stalagmite look of lower Manhattan was the Chase Manhattan Bank building, a modernist slab uncomfortably inserted among its svelte neighbors. The building itself, arguably, is one of the best early modernist office towers in Manhattan, but it began a trend of ever bulkier boxes that eventually obscured many of Manhattan’s most iconic skyscrapers.

Nevertheless, when the Twin Towers went up in 1974 they dominated the skyline in almost every direction. When I did my pictures of lower Manhattan in the early 80s they were ubiquitous, poking up and between other buildings, visible from a million different vantage points. It helped, of course, that there were two of them, and the vertical pin striping of the skin — the vulnerable exo-skeletons of the towers — seemed always to lead the eye upward.

One World Trade Center, despite its height, seems lost in the crowd much of the time. And while the Twin Towers often visually lined up with the erratic street grid of downtown Manhattan, the new tower seems rarely to do so. One exception, is Fulton Street where I photographed it juxtaposed with a richly articulated cast iron building from more than a hundred years ago. And as before with the Twin Towers, One WTC appears at its most commanding from across the Hudson in New Jersey.

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Fulton Street (4×5 film) — © Brian Rose

The rebuilding of the World Trade Center is ongoing, and construction will dominate the area for years. But several WTC towers have been completed, and Santiago Calatrava’s winged transportation center is getting closer to taking flight. The memorial fountains and the 9/11 Museum, most of which is underground, will not be a part of my narrative, which is focused on the skyline of New York, its mythic nature, and its more workaday reality as seen from the ground — on the street — the democratic commons of New York.

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One WTC entrance — © Brian Rose

There is no doubt, however, in the post-9/11 political climate, that the democratic commons is under assault. The Trade Center site crawls with police officers and other agents of what is now painfully called Homeland Security. And various private security guards hover about at the ready to correct the wayward tourist or local who finds him or herself caught in the blurring confusion between public and private property. These zones of ambiguity are multiplying around the city, not just at the World Trade Center.

The photograph above shows the entrance to One World Trade Center, a strangely beautiful, but chilling place — the glinting sunlight reflected onto the street, the regimented rows of steel bollards, the striping of the colored glass behind the revolving doors, the solitary black-suited sentinel awaiting anyone brave enough to step forward with the idea of entering this silent fortress.

 

New York/Meatpacking District

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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.

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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/Out with the Old, In with the New

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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/Brooklyn Panorama

july4panoramaBrooklyn Panorama, July 4, 2014 — © Brian Rose

Before the fireworks on July 4th. Rain and clouds dissipated as a front passed through leaving clear skies and chilly (for the season) temperatures. To the right is One World Trade Center, the Williamsburg Bridge and the chimney of the Domino Sugar Refinery.

 

New York/Williamsburg

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The Williamsburg Bridge and the Domino Sugar Factory — © Brian Rose

After visiting the Kara Walker installation in the Domino Sugar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I decided to go back with my view camera and do a few photographs of the factory and the surrounding area. The picture above was taken with my digital camera placed on top of the view camera — so it’s roughly the same composition. Much of the sugar plant will be demolished to make way for a large housing development. The large brick structure at right, however, will be retained as an architectural landmark. While I was there, a crew was already at work, and I could see men climbing through the former conveyors angled between two of the structures.

It was early in the morning when I took the photograph, and few people were around except for dog walkers. There’s a sort of dialogue going on here between the chain link fencing with interwoven diamonds and the criss-crossing steel of the bridge. The top of One World Trade Center can be seen poking up at center left. This view will be dramatically different in a few years.

 

 

New York/911 Museum

911faces911 Museum memorial wall — © Brian Rose

I visited the 911 Memorial Museum on Monday as an invited guest — the museum is interested in acquiring some of my photographs of the World Trade Center taken over the years. I am working on a book based on those images. A book that I hope will serve as an antidote to the poisoned politics surrounding the subject of 911 — and a book that will speak, in particular, to New Yorkers.

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I went with my 15 year old son Brendan and my wife Renee. He was three back then, and does not remember the event with any specificity, though a year later, he gave me a Father’s Day gift of a drawing of the Twin Towers and with me and my camera. It’s my most cherished keepsake.

I was happy to see that the fencing around the memorial fountains and plaza had been partially removed, and it’s now possible to walk freely in and out. It will become even more accessible once the construction of One World Trade and the transportation center is completed. The museum is entered through a modestly scaled building on the plaza, and then one descends below ground.

It was a somber crowd. Lots of people in suits, and others in jackets and caps with NYPD or FDNY insignia. As much as I wanted my son to see the museum, I had misgivings about going myself. But I knew this was a special opportunity to see it before the hordes of tourists arrived.

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911 Museum — © Brian Rose

I expected the visit to be an emotional experience, but I was strangely unmoved. The main space with the exposed slurry wall of the original WTC foundations is impressive and well done. It has grandeur and posses an elegiac atmosphere. But the hall containing photographs of the victims made me uncomfortable. The colorful, mostly smiling faces, of the deceased seemed almost lurid to me. And immediately adjacent was a multi-media presentation about the rebuilding of the WTC site with faux inspiring music and gratuitous optimism.

The main exhibition located directly underneath one of the tower footprints is meticulously done, and it’s hard to find fault with the attention to detail and comprehensiveness. But as I began winding my way through the images and artifacts, I quickly tired, overwhelmed by the barrage of information presented. Maybe it will be useful to future generations when the event itself becomes distant and abstract. But to one who lived through it, I do not want or need this. I found myself sitting on a bench beneath a gigantic video screen showing the collapse of one of the towers running on a loop over and over. I had to get out of there.

unionsquare2001_lgUnion Square Park impromptu memorial, September 2001 — © Brian Rose

The biggest problem with the 911 Memorial Museum is that it tries to be both — memorial and museum. They are not compatible purposes, and it was a mistake to merge them. The gift shop would not be a problem were it serving only a museum. But it seems wrong because it sits in the middle of what is also a memorial — one that even houses the remains of unidentified 911 victims. Were it only a museum, the $24 admission charge would be high for many people, like MoMA or the Metropolitan, annoying, but acceptable I suppose. As a memorial, however, the admission charge is disrespectful to us all, even if the victim’s families and rescuers get in free. Sadly, I do not think many New Yorkers will visit.

 

New York/Lower East Side

NYT_spuraPhotograph from Time and Space on the Lower East Side in the New York Times — © Brian Rose

One of the photographs from Time and Space on the Lower East Side appeared in the Sunday New York Times .

50 years ago a number of blocks of densely occupied tenement housing along Delancey Street were razed and thousands of low income families, mostly Puerto Rican, were displaced. Robert Moses attempted to build a freeway across Lower Manhattan directly through Soho and the Lower East Side, and these blocks were the first to be cleared. The highway was stopped, but the vacant lots remained a political battleground for decades. A rebuilding plan, reached by neighborhood consensus, is finally moving forward. This article explains why it took so long.

It’s a shocking story of corruption and racism. It centers around Sheldon Silver, the New York State representative from lower Manhattan, and one of the most powerful politicians in Albany. If there is justice in the world, it signals the end of his ignominious career.

 

New York/WTC

tributeinlight01Tribute in Light 2013 (digital) — © Brian Rose

I was up in the Bronx photographing a Fordham University office space. After that I headed down to Brooklyn with my assistant Chris Gallagher. I wanted to get an image of the Tribute in Light — two focused beams of light symbolic of the Twin Towers.

I’d been thinking of a good location for a while, and decided upon the park just above the Brooklyn Bridge near Jane’s Carrousel. We walked around for about an hour looking for a good spot. The area was swarming with photographers carrying everything from iPhones to zoom lensed SLRs. Unsurprisingly, I appeared to be the only person with a view camera.

I found my vantage point — at a safe distance from the shutterbugs — and alternated shooting with 4×5 film and the Canon 5D Mark III (for those interested in such things) that I’d been using for my earlier architectural shoot. The image above was made with the latter.

It was an exceedingly warm, muggy, and windless night. But good for long exposures with the view camera. Dozens of people took up stations nearby awaiting the lights. As it got darker I became aware of the amber glow from a nearby streetlight being thrown on my foreground. The result has a strange theatricality, almost like the different elements were pasted together.

I’m picking up the 4×5 film later in the day. It will be interesting to compare to the digital image..