Photographer Brian Rose is no stranger to chronicling New York City life. He’s already authored photo books on the transformation of the Lower East Side and the Meatpacking District, but the subject of his latest book wasn’t something that he had planned on. WTC, his latest effort, is a photographic history (of sorts) of the World Trade Center complex, particularly the Twin Towers, and the evolution of the site in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Although he never set out to create a book, once Rose began revisiting his early images of New York, he noticed the presence of the towers in shots he had originally thought of only has landscapes, and he realized that he had a visual diary of New York and the World Trade Center.
The New Yorker: The heart of Rose’s book is pictures of the intact towers, photographs that are meant to reflect how the structures were viewed before they became symbols of horror and sacrifice. From their completion, in the early nineteen-seventies, until they were felled, by Al Qaeda operatives, the Trade Center towers stood for little beyond the abstract notion of global commerce.
But, as with Rose’s book about the changing landscape of the Meatpacking District, 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.
Brian Rose knows New York backwards and forwards. And past and present. In the past several years, Rose has published two well received books featuring his photographs of New York City then and now. In 2012’s Time and Space on the Lower East Side, 1980 + 2010, he showed the neighborhood during its years as a grungy breeding ground for artists and musicians.
WTC Photographs by Brian Rose
Foreword by Sean Corcoran
The World Trade Center was still new when I arrived in New York in the summer of 1977. Just three years before, Philippe Petit had made his famous high wire walk between the partially completed Twin Towers. I was a student then, and I made photographs all over lower Manhattan – many that included the Twin Towers.
In 1980 I photographed the Lower East Side of New York with the World Trade Center standing off in the distance, an imperious symbol of wealth and power. And a few years later, I received a grant to photograph the financial district, and the Twin Towers were a constant presence overshadowing the already lofty spires of Manhattan.
The Twin Towers were the perfect backdrop buildings, aloof from the passions below. And from afar they often appeared slightly out of focus, to be dematerializing into the sky, an optical effect caused by the steel pinstripes of the towers’ skin.
Those who masterminded the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11 understood the potency of the Twin Towers as image and symbol. And they knew that striking at that image would unleash forces not easily returned to station.
Kickstarter video about the making of WTC
Campaign successfully closed May 2016
I began collecting images of the Twin Towers as I moved around the city with my camera -- murals, posters, and memorials. I also decide to make periodic trips downtown – to what was still called ground zero – to document the rebuilding of the site and follow the rise of One World Trade Center, the skyscraper designed to replace the Twin Towers on the skyline.
None of this photography, from 1977 to the present was ever intended as a unified chronicle or portrait of place. It all happened in an ad hoc way, one thing, and then another. But a few years ago, much to my surprise, I realized that I had a book. I could tell the epic story of the World Trade Center through the pictures I had accumulated over the years. WTC is a 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 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.
- Brian Rose
Now in stock.
Hardbound $65 Signed
Limited Edition $250 Slipcover with 8x10 print,
signed and numbered edition of 100