Homo History – Sex: Christopher Street, the Trucks, and the West Side Highway Piers A Sexual Wonderland
Greenwich Village in New York City was a homosexual’s dream come true in the 1970’s and early 80’s. You could literally walk down Christopher Street and have as much sex as you wanted, anytime that you wanted either day or night.
Abandoned for decades, the piers along the elevated West Side Highway became part of the Christopher Street gay scene when men began wandering a few blocks over to the dark and seedy area to cruise. Every pier, dark corner or loading dock in the area was used for a sexual encounter.
Gay men would gather cruise, sunbathe and party on the open docks and then venture into the skeletal remains of the forgotten PIER 48, a rotting wooden structure where sex could be had anytime of the day or the night.
Gay men fucked on the piers, in the trucks, in alleys, doorways, bookstores, bars and backrooms, Anywhere you look on Christopher Street today I can guarantee you that gay men fucked there in the 1970’s.
The sex was constant, boundless, free and liberating.
Back then Christopher Street was our version of gay ancient Rome, with the bars and clubs and bath houses that had become infamous in the gay culture but now is slowly being lost, forgotten and in some cases hidden from public view as if it was shameful and embarrassing.
Where today stands a Brooklyn Industries outpost on the corner of Christopher and Hudson streets, was once a gay bookstore with a not-so-secret backroom sex grotto downstairs.
The TRUCKS were parked near the docks on the West Side Highway under the then elevated Highway which is now gone along with the infamous abandoned crumbling PIERS where sex could be found 24/7.
During the day the TRUCKS which were parked in the area were loaded with merchandise and freight unloaded from arriving ships. At night they were parked and empty and the rear of the truck would be left open. The orgies began at around 10pm – 5am, getting busy at around 2am. The area around the parked trucks was empty, dark, and dangerous which heightened the forbidden pleasures found within. Arthur Bell’s 1975 exposé in the Village Voice focused on the brutal murder of a waterfront denizen, warning that if you go to Pier 48 “you take your life in your hands
It was exciting and dangerous sex. There was also the ever present risk of being robbed, attacked by gay bashers or arrested by the NYPD.
To Jonathan D. Katz, the piers which line New York’s riverfront serve as evidence of a lost civilization — particularly for the city’s gay community.
“This group of queers built this beautiful utopia and inhabited it. To see 4,000 naked men laying outside on a Sunday afternoon…it’s kind of inconceivable today.”
The freedom with which men lay naked in the sun or fucked in the burned-out sheds epitomized the spirit of the movement. Raw, uninhibited, and passionate.