© 2018 The Queer Space Studies Initiative

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.

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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.

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