Tag Archives: West Side Highway

Gay History – SEX in the 1970’s: NYC’s Christopher Street, the Trucks, and the West Side Highway Piers

Greenwich Village in New York City was a a newly sexually liberated homosexual’s dream come true in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. You could literally walk down Christopher Street in the West Village from Sheridan Sheridan Square to the piers and have as much sex as you wanted, anytime of the day or night.

There was a pay phone on the corner of 7th. Avenue and Christoper Street that would ring when a hot guy stood near it.  The caller, a very handsome closeted soap actor lived in an apartment overlooking the phone booth and when the “trick” answered the and after a few questions about sexual positions an invitation might be issued to visit the actor’s bedroom.

Further down Christopher Street  and abandoned for decades, the piers along the elevated West Side Highway became part of the Christopher Street gay cruising scene when men began wandering a few blocks over to the darker and seedier areas to cruise. Every pier, dark corner or loading dock in the was used for a sexual encounters.

Gay men would gather cruise, sunbathe (during the day) 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 with a hint of danger on the side.. 

Gay men fucked on the piers, in the trucks, in alleys, doorways, bookstores, bars and backrooms, Anywhere you look on Christopher Street and along the West Side Highway 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 a gay ancient Rome,  a never-ending bacchanal with the many bars, after-hour clubs and bath houses that had once been 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 high-end Brooklyn”clothing outpost” on the corner of Christopher and Hudson streets, was once a popular gay bookstore with a not-so-secret sex grotto downstairs that was filled with sexual satyrs doing their thing 24 hours a day.  And this was just one of many such places back then.  Backrooms, peep shows, sex clubs, bath houses, adult movie theaters, and the Central Park rambles.  It was an all you could fuck and suck buffet.

The TRUCKS were parked near the docks on the West Side Highway under the then elevated West Side Highway which is now gone along with the infamous abandoned crumbling piers.

During the day the TRUCKS were loaded with merchandise and freight unloaded from arriving ships. At night they were parked and empty and the rear of the trucks doors would be left open. The truck orgies began at around 10pm, getting busiest at around 2am. The area around the parked trucks was empty, dark, and dangerous which heightened the forbidden pleasures found within.  

Anyone who stepped foot into the boarded-up dock terminals at the piers or to the TRUCKS to have sex were “playing at danger,” they were experiencing the thrill of breaking the rules. But there was real danger in walking on the crumbling piers, especially at night, and the men who had sex on the piers or in trucks parked nearby were risking encounters with police, gay bashers, and muggers. Arthur Bell’s 1975 exposé in the Village Voice focused on the brutal murder of a waterfront gay bar patron, (The murder of Addison Verill) warning that if you go to Pier 48 “you take your life in your hands.”

To Jonathan D. Katz, and others 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 gay men built this beautiful utopia and inhabited it. To see 4,000 naked men laying outside on a Sunday afternoon on the piers…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.”

May we never forget it.

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Piers
Piers2
Christopher Street Bookstore
Lost NYC Gay Bars - The Only Known Video Of The Original Eagles Nest Bar In NYC (1971 - 2000)

Lost NYC Gay Bars – The Only Known Video Of The Original Eagle’s Nest Bar In NYC (1971 – 2000)

Located at 11th. Avenue and 21st. Street, NYC’s The Eagle’s Nest was originally a longshoreman’s bar called the Eagle Open Kitchen from 1931 – 1970 which was then acquired by Jack Modica who turned the rough and tumble pub into a Leather/ Levi bar

With a few coats of black paint and an old beat up motorcycle for decoration, a gay institution was born. “The Eagle” was open 7 days a week including holidays.  And was always the place to go.

Back in those days it’s patrons loved the isolation and the raw masculinity of this dark sexual playground and bar on the West Side Highway.  Cigars, uniforms, poppers, and sex in the bathrooms and backroom were on the menu nightly.

But with the onset of AIDS in the mid – late 80’s, sexual habits were changing and the gay community was reassessing itself. By the 90’s the neighborhood was evolving and the frontier was now being gentrified.  Old warehouses were converted into upscale loft buildings or art galleries. Landlords were not renewing old leases and by the year 2000, Jack Modica chose to retire rather than to reopen The Eagle elsewhere.

And while a new version of called the Eagle NYC was reopened on, October 5, 2001, by different owners at 554 W 28th Street it was never the same. 

The video below taken after hours shortly before it’s closing and is all remains other than the memories of its patrons of the infamous gay leather bar.

Have a story about the original Eagle’s Nest?  Post it below and share the memories.