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The transformation of the Meatpacking District of New York City from urban desolation to the epicenter of art and fashion.
The transformation of the Meatpacking District of New York City from urban desolation to the epicenter of art and fashion.
210 backers pledged $16,372 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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See the book prototype here

The Meatpacking District in 1985

It was the winter of 1985, and I was casting about for something new to photograph. I had completed projects about the Lower East Side and the Wall Street area, and later that summer I would travel to Europe and begin shooting the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall. For reasons I cannot recall, I walked over to the west side with my camera and spent several days photographing the Meatpacking District. 

Early in the morning the Meatpacking District was a vast open-air scene of carnage. Sides of beef were hung from hooks that slid along overhead conveyors. Men in bloodied white coveralls grappled with the carcasses. By mid morning the hubbub of the city’s meat market subsided and the cobblestone streets took on a look of abandonment, astonishing in the heart of such a great metropolis.

Washington Street 1985
Washington Street 1985
Under the High Line 1985
Under the High Line 1985

 
The High Line

In 1985 the high line was a nameless unused rail viaduct that ran down the west side of Manhattan all the way into the West Village. It cast ominous shadows over streets and vacant lots. The elevated rail line once served the docks and factories lining the Hudson River, and replaced the tracks that once ran directly down Tenth Avenue—Death Avenue they called it then.

The Project Continues
I never printed any of my Meatpacking photographs. Other work took precedence, and the negatives sat in a box, almost forgotten. In 2012 I pulled out the box and began scanning. I was stunned to rediscover these images, made with little artifice, unforced in their clarity. I posted a number of them on my blog, and at the urging of many, decided to repeat the original views as well as find new ones of this profoundly transformed neighborhood.

Washington Street 1985
Washington Street 1985
Washington Street 2013
Washington Street 2013


Metamorphosis

So much has changed in the meatpacking district and the adjoining gallery area of Chelsea that I hesitate saying anything at all. What was once urban desolation is now the epicenter of fashion and art in the western hemisphere. The stench of meat and blood that once permeated everything has long dissipated, and black SUVs and sports cars now rumble through the cobblestone streets.

The High Line is no longer a rusting hulk, but… I’ll let you fill in the blank. I love it – it’s a perfect conjuncture of preservation and contemporary architecture. I hate it – it’s too crowded much of the time to be fully enjoyed. But what can you do? This is New York. You cannot live here if you cannot abide change.

West 14th Street 1985
West 14th Street 1985
West 14th Street 2013
West 14th Street 2013

The Book

Metamorphosis will be a companion to my earlier book Time and Space on the Lower East Side. Working again with Golden Section Publishers, the book will include a series of before/after images from 1985 and 2013 and a number of newly made images of the Meatpacking District. It will be available in a hardcover trade edition and a limited edition with slipcover and 8x10 print. Your help is needed to make this unique book possible.

See the book prototype here

Limited Edition Cover
Limited Edition Cover

Risks and challenges

I have worked with publishers in the Netherlands and the United States, and Metamorphosis will be my fifth monograph. My last book, Time and Space on the Lower East Side, was successfully funded by Kickstarter, and the book has sold over 1,000 copies. My publishing partner Golden Section and I have a great deal of experience with the process of book production, and we are confident that Metamorphosis will be completed and ready for shipment by July 2014.

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    The project postcard. Your support is appreciated!

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    A signed copy of Metamorphosis: Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013.

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    Two signed copies of Metamorphosis: Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    A signed and numbered copy of the limited edition of Metamorphosis with slipcover and original 8x10 signed print.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Both limited editions: Metamorphosis and Time and Space on the Lower East Side, each with slipcovers and signed 8x10 prints.

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    Two copies of the limited edition of Metamorphosis with slipcover and 8x10 signed print.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Limited edition of Metamorphosis, and signed before/after 16x20 prints from the book.

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    Pledge $1,250 or more About $1,250

    Both limited editions: Metamorphosis and Time and Space on the Lower East Side, and signed before/after 16x20 prints from the book.

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    Pledge $1,750 or more About $1,750

    Limited edition of Metamorphosis, and signed 20x24 print of any image from the book.

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Funding period

- (36 days)