Castro to Christopher: Gay Streets of America 1979–1986 (Hardcover)

Castro to Christopher: Gay Streets of America 1979–1986 By Nicholas Blair, Jim Farber (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Nicholas Blair, Jim Farber (Introduction by)
Not Yet Published


The lost world of the “gay paradises” in San Francisco and New York is beautifully documented in this collection of remarkably intimate portraits and street scenes taken by photography activist and chronicler Nicholas Blair from 1979–1986. The lovely, carefree utopia pre-AIDS gay communities offered a long-maligned culture evoke a halcyon existence of peace and acceptance, with only a hint of the dark cloud of the AIDS epidemic looming, and early protests and demands for humane treatment just beginning to take hold.

A New York City native, Nicholas Blair dropped out of high school in 1977 and hit the road, landing in San Francisco, where he helped form an arts commune. With a Leica rangefinder camera given to him by a childhood friend, he honed his craft as a photographer amidst the explosion of LGBTQ life that was taking over from the hippie movement.

From the Castro Valley in San Francisco to the conga-line of Christopher Street that cuts through New York’s West Village, there is a vanished world revitalized in the photos of Nicholas Blair. Now an internationally recognized photographer, Blair is compiling these images for the first time, exploring a time and place that altered the cultural makeup of America. Blair’s photos of the streets are honest, revealing, evocative, and tender; much like the streets and their theater of play were themselves.

The timeframe of these photographs, taken between 1979 and 1986, marked a time when post-Stonewall exuberance—the grudging acceptance and tolerance of a life and culture once criminalized—flowered and overflowed in concentrated areas (San Francisco, the West Village, Fire Island) and life was out, in public and in the street. It was a community and world unto itself, before that world became torn apart by the epidemic onslaught to come.

About the Author

Dedicating himself to photography and multiculturalism, Nicholas Blair photographed and traveled widely before apprenticing with the photographer Henry “Hank” Wessel. He received his MFA in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1981. Through the 80s and 90s he continued to photograph as well as work as a cinematographer on documentaries for the non-governmental organization CARE in addition to the United Nations, among others. In 1997, he made the documentary America’s Culture of Crash on the world of demolition derby racing in upstate New York, shown on The Learning Channel. His career as a photographer, cinematographer, and filmmaker has taken him to over 40 countries. He has received fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, The New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Jerome Foundation. Blair’s photographs are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The International Center for Photography, The Brooklyn Museum, and the Bibliothéque Nationale in Paris.

Jim Farber is a regular contributor to the New York Times, the Guardian, and numerous other publications. For 25 years he was the chief music critic of the New York Daily News and has been writing about culture since the 1970s. He is a three-time winner of the ASCAP Foundation’s Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award for music criticism and is an adjunct professor at NYU. 

Product Details
ISBN: 9781648230349
ISBN-10: 1648230342
Publisher: powerHouse Books
Publication Date: June 27th, 2023
Pages: 160
Language: English