Before froyo and studio apartments that cost more a month than any car I will ever own, the Lower East Side was home to those with no other housing options. Though almost uninhabitable, the then dilapidated and abandoned buildings became a haven for a vibrant community of squatters who worked to make them livable.

Photographer Ash Thayer found herself entering this world, like many others, through force of circumstance. No money. No options. She was introduced to the squatter community through the overlapping punk scene and from there was able to capture the bright bohemia she was now a part of.


Thayer’s intimate portraits provide a rare document of secretive community and a recent past that seems untouchable. The scenes she captures are textured by a 90’s punk aesthetic but remind us content-wise of the housing crises that are still taking place today in the wake of gentrification.  

Check out collected works of Asher Thayer in her photo book KILL CITY: Lower East Side Squatters 1992-2000























Images via Ash Thayer on Display at Sunchief Gallery Los Angeles until 9/27/15