Document Type

Theses, Masters


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Urban studies (Planning and development)

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Master of Philosophy to the Dublin Institute of Technology in September, 2009.


There has been seismic change on the New York waterfront since World War II. The shipping industry of longshoremen on the rough docks, has given way to mothers with babies in a bucolic landscape. The former condition existed within Kristeva's theories of abjection (1982), and today we have a suppression of that abjection through the municipal authority of the Hudson River Park Act (1998). This control of space is integral to gentrification. The abject condition existed as a changing zone of spatial occupiers and colonies, who demarcated their territories as bodily terrains on the edge of the city. Due to particular cultural episodes on the Greenwich Village waterfront- mob violence, sexual activity, cultural creations, reformer and gentrifier plans- there is an opportunity for reading spatial reconfigurations as coalescing around the changes in occupancy and colonies. It allows for contemplation on marginality and the reality of national border zones as places of varying frontiers. This study set out to identify the key themes of change, how they progressed over time, and their impact on the waterfront of the Village. The use of maps, photographs and social, economic and historical literature support the theory that the abject was inherently symbolic on the waterfront and integral to its transformation. Key themes, segregated by colonial identity (Mr. Joe Docks vs. the Gangsters and Shylocks; The Clone; The Legendary Children; The Mamas) are individually explored in a chronological order. Conclusions are referenced together to form an overall theory that demonstrates the argument. The dominating slant of the thesis is in the social/ cultural reconfiguration of space- 'the crowds, pacing straight for the water' - that has fostered on the waterfront over the latter part of the twentieth century. I argue colonization is the evidence for this socio-spatial condition, and a forgotten generator of spatial change. Its study therefore is important within a framework of gentrification and the transformation of public space in New York in the Twentieth Century.