Viewfinder | ‘Crusty Punks’

For the past six months, Steven Hirsch has used a combination of photography, video, and monologue to document the tribe of tattooed denizens who hang out on Crusty Row in Tompkins Square Park.


“There has been an evolutionary change in Crusty subculture. It’s a much darker scene now than it was even two or three years ago. Many of the kids today are heroin addicted. From my interviews, I realize most come from the suburbs or rural areas, leaving behind broken homes or parental abuse. That’s not necessarily a recent trend, obviously, but the level of despair seems to be higher than ever.”—Steven Hirsch

Some of the residents of Crusty Row describe life there in their own words.


“My father was a heroin addict, my brother was a heroin addict, my sister was a heroin addict. I mean it runs in my family. It’s like they’re all into it.”—Steve


“I don’t do no drugs. All I do is swirl beer. Occasionally some whisky. I’m thirty two years old now. I had a house with my ex-girlfriend out in Nashville. We broke up so I packed my bag and hit the road.”—Satan


“I’ve tried to do the whole like have a job and all that kind of stuff. I get so depressed and so bored and so tired of everything and sick of people I always end up back on the road.”—Kerr


“Probably done more things than most fifty year old men neck deep in a mid life crisis have done in my short twenty five years.”—Clinton


“I’ve been on the road, this is my fourth year. But on and off, you know I tried going back to school. Tried living in a house a few times. It’s just garbage. It doesn’t work for me.”—Skamper


“I’ll probably die of alcoholism. I only drink beer, but I don’t know. I’m not going to guarantee my demise. Sometimes I don’t feel so right here. Thirty seven. Yeah it’s hard core man. No I’m just getting started.”—Yardsale

Steven Hirsch is an instructor at NYU Journalism. You can view more of Mr. Hirsch’s work on Crusty Row at his blog.