Secret Parties

September 23, 2009 -

The summer of 2009 saw New York's real estate market in crisis. In late May, the NY Post reported that a "squatter explosion" was taking over "foreclosed homes and abandoned construction sites." In July, the New York Times reported that 368 construction projects were stalled around the city - enough to "evoke unnerving images of New York’s abundant vacant lots in the 1970s." And then the Daily News reported that "heroin-addict hobos from around the country" had flooded into New York and were "living in stalled luxury condo projects," prompting one Brooklyn resident to say "it's like St. Marks in the '70s... it's the bad old days all over again."

Besides this wave of squatters, the real estate crisis also spurred a creative response, as several semi-clandestine events were organized throughout the summer of 2009. Set in vacant lots, on boats in polluted canals, inside empty industrial buildings, and around half-empty luxury condo buildings, these events allowed unfettered access to unique parts of the New York landscape. Their locations ranged from DJs spinning on the unsold observation decks of the Williamsburg Savings Bank, to parties inside the massive "urban pirate" ferryboat moored on the Newtown Creek, to swimming in dumpsters in a vacant lot next to the polluted Gowanus Canal. The following photos capture moments from some of this summer's so-called "secret" parties.

"Americans Retreat to Their Inner Line"

"Urban Pirate" Boats

Maze of Industry

Inside the Dome at Night

Dumpster Diving

Captain's Quarters

Down the Aisle

Silenced Halls of Commerce

Dumpster Lights

On the Newtown Creek

Last Night of the Dumpster Pools


  1. Wow, this location looks awesome!!!
    Looks like you guys had a great summer.
    Greets from Berlin,

  2. Hard hitting stuff.

    I can't tell what's better, the reporting or the photography!