Striking Photos of Squatters Show Squalor and Splendor of LES in the ’90s

March 27, 2015 | Liam Mathews

On March 31, Powerhouse Books is releasing Kill City: Lower East Side Squatters, 1992-2000, a collection of photos by Ash Thayer, who lived in the squats and documented the beauty and squalor of the community. Thayer, a resident of See Skwat, Fifth Street Squat, and Serenity House, eulogizes and celebrates a bygone era of Manhattan history that wasn’t even that long ago.

Thayer moved to New York from Memphis as a teenager, and soon fell in with the punk squatter community. “To say that my time squatting in New York was formative is an understatement,” she writes in the book’s prologue. “Although it was, at times, a wild scene and full of imperfect people, including myself, it taught me so many valuable skills: construction, community organizing, and above all independence. My ability to trust my instincts and stay true to my beliefs, regardless of what others might think, was strengthened. Together, my fellow squatters and I crafted a life out of New York City’s throwaways.”

Take a look at the photos in the gallery above.

(Photos/Captions: Ash Thayer)