Recently photographer Brian Rose took his old 1985 photos of the Meatpacking District and traveled back to the neighborhood with them, recreating the shots in the present day landscape of the area... which, needless to say, has undergone massive changes since the '80s. Rose recalls:
"In the early to mid 1980s large parts of lower Manhattan felt abandoned, desolate. Although the Lower East Side could be scary, particularly east of Avenue A in the East Village, you could wander the empty streets of SoHo and TriBeCa without concern for safety. The Meatpacking District, like the Fulton Fish Market, was only busy in the early morning. Big burly guys in blood smeared white smocks wrestled sides of beef hanging from hooks on conveyors beneath the sidewalk sheds.
You can still see some of the sheds today. By 10 a.m., the storefront gates were rolled down and the streets were empty. The stench of decaying meat hung in the air 24/7. As the sun went down, transvestite prostitutes took up positions on the corners—tall, high-heeled, in wigs. Men in leather motorcycle gear slipped in and out of unmarked doors to sex clubs like the Mineshaft and the Anvil.
New York had a primal rawness in those days. Many people who lived through the '80s miss that landscape, that urban playground, which allowed one the freedom to explore and experiment. But there were victims as well. Crime, drugs, AIDS. The city was either going to go down like present-day Detroit, or rise out of the ashes. We all know which way it went as seen in my pictures of the Meatpacking District."