All New York’s a Stage: Meatpacking District Then and Now

Considering the concentration of luxury hotels, boutiques, and glitzy nightclubs in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, it’s difficult to image a time when there was actually a bustling meat market there, but Brian Rose has the photographs to prove it. In “Metamorphosis, Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013,” (opening July 15th at Dillon Gallery) Rose will exhibit a cache of historic and serendipitous photos of the neighborhood’s past life.

Until now, Rose had neither printed nor displayed the photographs he took in 1985. Observing the Meatpacking’s rebirth as a decadent nightlife and shopping hub, he knew he had an important trove.

“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,” said Rose. For the exhibition Rose pairs the original photographs with images of the neighborhood in 2013, reproducing many of the street scenes from 1985. Although there is a neighborhood-specific focus to the show, the images lay bare the rapid and sometimes tumultuous changes that neighborhoods across New York City have experienced in recent years. Moreover, Rose comes across as an astute urban historian whose photographs captivatingly suspend cities in time.

“Metamorphosis, Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013” opens July 15th and will remain on view through August 15th.

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Washington and West 13th Street, 1985

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West 17th Street and Tenth Avenue, 1985

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Washington and West 13th Street, 1985

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Washington and West 13th Street, 2013