Manhattan's West Side Piers

Looking back to New York in the late 1970s and early 1980s, one finds some of the most dynamic interrelations between sexuality and space in recent cultural history. In Queer Constellations: Subcultural Space in the Wake of the City, Diane Chisholm describes New York “as the queer capital of the twentieth century, and not just as site of the Stonewall riots in the latter half-century but as the setting of heightened phantasmagoria." The segregation of gay men in Greenwich Village made a fertile environment for the appropriation of the decayed piers along Hudson River as arenas for sexual and social interaction.

These images--captured by itinerant photographers such as Leonard Fink, Shelley Seccombe, Alvin Baltrop, Peter Hujar, and others— constitute an impressive historical record of the piers before their demolition in the late '90s, documenting the appropriation of New York's waterfront by disenfranchised bodies who used them for refuge, habitation, and play.

Photo taken by Stefanos Milkidis, 2017.

You may see more here.

Peter Hujar, Hallway, Canal Street Pier, 1983

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Frank Hallam, Sunners, Pier 51, 1978

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Peter Hujar, Mural at Piers, 1983

Leonard Fink, Pier 46, 1979

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Leonard Fink, Self-Portrait, 1980

Leonard Fink, Pier 46, 1980

Leonard Fink, Pier 46, 1979

Shelley Seccombe, Wall Newspaper – West Street at 11th Street, 1975

Leonard Fink, Pier 52, 1977

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Peter Hujar, Canal Street Piers: #2 Mural, 1983

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers (interior with man), 1975-86

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Leonard Fink, Kenneth, 1977

Peter Hujar, Christopher Street Pier #4, 1976

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Peter Hujar, Canal Street Piers: Face and Writing on Wall, 1983

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Leonard Fink, Pier 46, 1980

Peter Hujar, Christopher Street Pier #1, 1976

Peter Hujar, Pier - Four Doors, 1981

Alvin Baltrop,The Piers (exterior view of day's end), 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Miron Zownir, Pier 46, Date Unknown

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers (collapsed warehouse), 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, Super Cream, 1980

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers (male figure smoking), 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers (male drinking with cigarette), 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers (male figure by window) 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers (open window), 1975-86

Frank Hallam, Tava Painting the facade of Pier 46, c. 1979

Frank Hallam, Pier 46, En-Mass Sunners. c. 1982

Bethune Street Pier after 1978 Collapse. Photographer Unknown.

Allan Tannenbaum, Pier 48 Night Outside.

Allan Tannenbaum, Pier 48 Night Inside.

Allan Tannenbaum, Pier 48, Balcony.

Allan Tannenbaum, Pier 48, Room.

Allan Tannenbaum, Pier 48 WTC.

Allan Tannenbaum, Pier 48.

Pterodactyl Mural Inside Pier 34, by David Wojnarowicz, Photographer/Date Unknown.

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Peter Hujar, Christopher Street Pier #5, 1976

Peter Hujar, Canal Street Piers: Man Painting Figure Studies (possibly Luis Frangella), 1983

Peter Hujar, Canal Street Piers: Man Painted on a Wall, 1983

Peter Hujar, Canal Street Piers: Window Paintings, 1983

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986 (The Greek word ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΑ-Freedom inscribed on the wall)

Peter Hujar, Crossed Legs on the Pier, 1976

Peter Hujar, Christopher Street Pier #3, 1976

Alvin Baltrop, The Piers, 1975-1986

A Look at the Twin Towers on the Since-demolished West Side Highway in the Late 1970. Photographer/Date Unknown

Shelley Seccombe, Sunbathing on the Edge of Pier 52, 1977

Andreas Sterzing, Luis Frangella Mural Pier 34, Date Unknown

Leonard Fink, The Piers, Date Unknown

Shelley Seccombe, Two Men on a Bridge Pier 45, 1978

Arthur Tress, Dockside Interview, 1977

Frank Hallam, Sunners-Pier 51 (Exterior from Interior), 1978

Shelley Seccombe, Fire on Pier 46, 1980

Leonard Fink, David Wojnarowicz in front of Pier 46, 1979

Shelley Seccombe, Sunbathers on Pier 51, 1977

Leonard Fink, Days End, 1975

Andreas Sterzing, Keith Davis, 1983

Stanley Stellar, Jerk-Off, 1977

Shelley Seccombe, Sunday afternoon on Pier 49, 1978

Andreas Sterzing, Wojnarowicz's Gagging Cow, Pier 34, 1983

Andreas Sterzing, Pier 34 Demolition (David Wojnarowicz’s Gagging Cow and Richard Hambleton’s shadow painting are visible), 1984

Dirk Rowntree, David Wojnarowicz Artwork Painted Over, 1983

Dirk Rowntree, David Wojnarowicz Painting at Pier 34, 1983

Dirk Rowntree, David Wojnarowicz Painting at Pier 34, 1983

Dirk Rowntree, David Wojnarowicz Painting at Pier 34, 1983

Stanley Stellar, Peter (Hujar) Gets His Dick Sucked, 1981

Stanley Stellar, Cyclops, 1978

Leonard Fink, Date Unknown

Leonard Fink, Date Unknown

Leonard Fink, Date Unknown

Leonard Fink, Date Unknown

Leonard Fink, Date Unknown

Frank Hallam, Swimmer, Pier 46, 1979

Shelley Seccombe, Catwalk Inside Pier 48, 1978

Shelley Seccombe, Dancer on the Pier at Sunset, with audience, bicycle, and fisherman, circa 1975

Shelley Seccombe, Three Stages of a Dive, End of Pier 49, 1978

Daniel & David on Christopher Street Pier, mid-1990s.

© 2018 The Queer Space Studies Initiative