The Extreme Transformation of the Meatpacking District

In the summer of 2012, my mom took me to NYC for fashion design summer camp. She made all the arrangements and even kept the name of the hotel a secret. It was to be a surprise. During the taxi ride to this mystery hotel, I was so anxious and curious that I could hardly breathe. I was filled with so much anticipation and excitement. I asked her, “Please tell me where we are going?…Staying at a hotel in Times Square?” and she said, “No. Just wait and see, but trust me, I know you will like it very much.” The taxi driver headed toward the Lower West Side, and as I glanced out the window, I saw that we were in the neighborhood called, “Meatpacking” with its famous Highline and Chelsea Market, expensive designer shops and restaurants along the old cobblestone streets. The taxi pulled up in front of “The Standard” hotel–one of Manhattan’s most hyper-luxury hotels. It was the most memorable trip I shared with mom.

Meatpacking has changed tremendously since the 80’s…from empty warehouses, meat markets, and factories to a favorite tourist attraction. In the winter of 1985, a young photographer, Brian Rose, spent a few days walking around the area in the mid-afternoon, taking photographs of the meat factories, run-down buildings, empty lots and even the sex clubs like the Mineshaft, that was later shut down by the city for permitting “high-risk sexual activity” during the worsening AIDS epidemic.

Brian never thought about presenting those photos until 2012, and he re-created each shot. The result is an amazing set of then-and-nows in his new book, “Metamorphosis: Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013”. This district has become one of the highest fashion forward places in Manhattan. Thousands of tourists visit Meatpacking every year…non-stop!

Here are some photos then-and-now:



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