Back in the late 70s and early 80s, the riverside western edge of Manhattan was far less developed than today. Infamously, many gay men went to the abandoned piers near Christopher Street looking for sex, or as a place to hang out and sunbathe during the summer months. Fences around the piers kept most people out. However, the flimsy barricades were pretty easy to get around. Before Grindr, before Scruff, even before AIDS, the cruising spots like the piers were where gay men went to relax and get off.

Photographer Stanley Stellar captured many photos during this time, and those were shown at NYC’s Kapp Kapp Gallery this past weekend. Stellar’s photos capture men relaxing, sunbathing naked, kissing, or getting more intimate with one another inside the piers, which offered an abundance of abandoned rooms. The piers were also a place where street artists could practice their art. Graffiti by the late Keith Haring, who died from HIV-related illness in 1990 can be seen in the background of some of these shots.