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PARK AND RIDE

Psst! New York’s Hip High Line Has A Seedy Gay Past Tourists Don’t Know About

Since it first opened several years ago, New York’s High Line has become a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, offering a unique view of the city and harbor and a verdant respite from the concrete jungle. (They even made sure to incorporate indigenous flowers and plants into the landscaping.)

One aspect of the High Line that’s not often touted, though, is its queer roots.

Back in the 1970s, when the park was just an elevated railway, it overlooked popular hookup spots along Manhattan’s West Side. (Well, honestly, what didn’t? It was the ’70s.)

In the 1980s, when the line was taken out of service, it was the backdrop to Twilo, Tunnel and other dance clubs we gays loved to frequent.

Even the push to gentrify the High Line came from two gay men, Joshua David and Robert Hammond (left), who say their quest to reclaim the space incorporated two queer hobbies—design and preservation.

And possibly a  third—cruising.

Charles Renfro—whose firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, revamped the park for its current incarnation—said:

In our design for the High Line… we are trying to keep and push the qualities of the Line that lend it its sexiness: It’s overgrown, it’s partly a ruin, and it’s outside the city. Our paths meander through high and low vegetation, on occasion ending abruptly… So while it may sponsor gay cruising, I think it will also sponsor straight cruising and a general sense of pleasure that few public spaces in New York provide at this moment.

On Tuesday, February 7, at New York’s LGBT Center, David and Hammond present “Behind the Bushes: The Secret Homo History of the High Line,” where they’ll discuss the park’s untold queer back story. (Hopefully with photos).

The press release gives some details:

The talk will be a mixture of playful stories and thoughtful discussion about the historical and contemporary relationship between gay men and changing neighborhoods, preservation and design. Attendees will learn how the LBGT community has influenced—and been influenced by—the High Line, from the earliest efforts to save it through its successful redevelopment.

While looking at how the LBGT community can win concrete changes in New York City, Josh and Robert will also share stories of old Chelsea, legendary Roxy parties, and the adventures they had stumbling through the worlds of art, celebrity, government, design and entertainment as they set about transforming the High Line.

There’s more, probably less salacious information to be found in David and Hammond’s book,  High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky, which they’ll be signing after the talk.

Image: Charles McDermott

By:           Dan Avery
On:           Jan 31, 2012
Tagged: , ,
  • 9 Comments
    • Geone456
      Geone456

      Fuck the letter ‘i’

      Jan 31, 2012 at 6:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ggggb
      ggggb

      I’m pretty sure that everyone knows about its past—although I woke up with someone on a bench there a little while ago and it felt very strange with all the groups of businessmen from out of town and the women

      Jan 31, 2012 at 6:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jazz
      Jazz

      Geone456: you can get a peek behind the letter ‘i’ if you checkout the photographer Kevin McDermont’s website: http://www.kevinmcdermott.com/nudes.html

      Jan 31, 2012 at 7:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dsp
      dsp

      What the f is this share me thing going on at queerty? Every f’en time i click a subject I get like, 5 to 8 share this crap? f u queerty for this? change or I will not be returning!!!!

      Jan 31, 2012 at 7:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Drew
      Drew

      Nothing new here, queerty writing the usual about urban gay men partying and having public sex as though this is what we all do or love to do.

      This is a total joke:
      In our design for the High Line… we are trying to keep and push the qualities of the Line that lend it its sexiness: It’s overgrown, it’s partly a ruin, and it’s outside the city. Our paths meander through high and low vegetation, on occasion ending abruptly… So while it may sponsor gay cruising, I think it will also sponsor straight cruising and a general sense of pleasure that few public spaces in New York provide at this moment.

      Straight people don’t “cruise” and they don’t do trashy things like have public sex with complete strangers in a renovated park.

      Jan 31, 2012 at 8:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MikeE
      MikeE

      @Drew: drew, drew, drew.. your naiveté and innocence are refreshing.
      “straight people don’t…”

      ROFLMAO

      /walks away, shaking head in disbelief

      Jan 31, 2012 at 10:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Me
      Me

      It would have been more impressive if his wang was hidden behind the capital letter “I” in 18pt type.

      …Just saying.

      Jan 31, 2012 at 11:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gay Bacon
      Gay Bacon

      I went to one of the most conservative, morally uptight schools in the nation, TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY, and plenty of straight people cruised. There’s a place called North Gate where they have all the bars and lots of people go there for one night stands which don’t always happen to end at their apartments…and yes it’s open to the public. I really don’t see the difference.

      Feb 1, 2012 at 12:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jason
      jason

      Who is that guy on the cover of that book? Hubba, hubba….

      Feb 1, 2012 at 8:17 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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