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From Scuzzy To Chic, How Meatpacking Evolved Since 1985

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[West 14th Street in 1985 (left) and today (right). All photos by Brian Rose.]

Photographer Brian Rose has grown accustomed to chronicling urban change, one neighborhood at a time. Two years after producing a photo series with side-by-side shots of the Lower East Side of 1980 and today, he's done the same with the Meatpacking District (h/t Vanishing NY). Rose originally turned his lens to the area in 1985, well before gentrification took hold: "In the morning the meat-packing 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. ... As evening approached another kind of meat market took over?this one human trade–as prostitutes prowled the empty streets, many of them transvestites, overly tall females tottering about on high heels, while men in black leather sought the anonymous doors of sex clubs."

The general feel of the neighborhood didn't really change till the late 90s, as Jeremiah Moss of Vanishing New York so neatly describes, when artists started crowding in for cheap rent and a few eateries opened to which trendsetters flocked. A decade passed. Now that the neighborhood is chockablock with top-label fashion boutiques, brunch spots with outdoor seating, art galleries, and the High Line, Rose decided to capture the modern-day equivalents of his snaps from 28 years ago.

The before-and-after documentation of ritizified areas has been done before, of course, with neighborhoods like Tribeca and many others proving ripe for this kind of treatment.

There's no clearer way to illustrate the passage of time, or the wiles of urban development, as Moss summarizes: "Brian Rose's photos tell the story of the Meatpacking District's massive shift, one photo pairing at a time?from quiet to crowds, low-rise to high-rise, rusted awnings to fresh coats of paint, meat houses to high-end boutiques, clunkers to luxury cars, poultry trucks to artisanal ice-cream trucks."
· Brian Rose: New York/Meatpacking District (Then and Now) [official]
· Meatpacking Before & After [Jeremiah's Vanishing NY]
· Photographer Brian Rose's 30-Year Project Documents Changing Face of LES [Curbed]
· Visit the Rundown, Pre-High Line MePa of the 1990s [Curbed]
· Tribeca's Radical Transformation Highlighted In Old Photos [Curbed]