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Cruising the Dead RiverDavid Wojnarowicz and New York's Ruined Waterfront$
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Fiona Anderson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226603612

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226603896.001.0001

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Protest and Preservation on the Waterfront

Protest and Preservation on the Waterfront

(p.130) 4 Protest and Preservation on the Waterfront
Cruising the Dead River

Fiona Anderson

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the relationship between homophobic municipal and federal legislation in New York in the 1970s and early 1980s and the rapid escalation of the gentrification of downtown Manhattan in the same period. A study of the gentrification of the waterfront in this period provides a vantage point from which to consider the city’s long-standing disinclination to archive itself, evident in its promotion of urban developments that resist the renewal of existing buildings and landmarks, and to explore the commitment of queer writers, artists, and filmmakers to preserving the ruined waterfront. This chapter brings to the fore queer appropriations of the New York waterfront and nearby bars, its identity as a gay men’s cruising space, as a place that facilitated the political organizing of gay men and lesbians, as a site for sex work, and as a home for displaced and at-risk trans people. I examine the civic battleground of the city’s historic waterfront from the perspective of those who were absent from mainstream accounts of its use, exploring histories of activism, preservationism, and protest that have been obscured by the gentrification of both the waterfront and its queer history.

Keywords:   urban renewal, New York City history, activism, Jim Hubbard, preservation, gentrification

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