Al Baltrop was born in the Bronx in 1948 and passed away in 2004. From 1975 to 1986 he photographed the crumbling piers and their inhabitants on the west side of Manhattan. He photographed obsessively and created an incredible archive of thousands of photographs that show a captivating mélange of intimacy, decay, violence, creativity and anarchy.
Without ever being nostalgic Baltrop’s photographs portray the end of a legendary era; the architectural destruction of the piers and, even more, the emotional and physical destruction brought by the impact ofthe AIDS crisis. However, his photographs are so much more than historical documents. His passion and personality are visible in the prints. Each of his photographs offers a well-constructed, intimate, and moving glimpse into this fascinating time and place.
During his lifetime, there was little artistic appreciation of his photography and only in recent years has his work slowly emerged to greater awareness.