Project Update

Six LGBT Historic Sites Calendared by Landmarks Preservation Commission

May 14, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS CONTACT
Ken Lustbader, NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project
(917) 848-1776 / [email protected]

SIX LGBT HISTORIC SITES CALENDARED BY LANDMARKS PRESERVATION COMMISSION

THE FIRST STEP FOR CONSIDERATION AS DESIGNATED NEW YORK CITY LANDMARKS

NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project’s Research and Advocacy
Establishes Case for Significance

Landmarking Actions Come as
50th Anniversary of Stonewall Approaches, in June

NEW YORK, NY — Monday, May 14, 2019 — The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission has calendared six New York City sites for possible landmark designation based on their cultural significance to LGBT and American history. The expert research and ongoing advocacy of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project contributed significantly to the selection of these important place-based historic sites.

The vote to calendar comes as New York City is poised to recognize the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, and play host to NYC Pride and WorldPride, when millions of LGBT individuals and allies will arrive in New York to honor and celebrate LGBT history.

“We are thrilled that our research was a catalyst for the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s review of cultural landmarks, which highlight the rich LGBT history of New York City,” said Andrew Dolkart, co-director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. “We met with the Commission’s chair, Sarah Carroll, and her staff to discuss how important LGBT-related sites are to the history of New York and are pleased that these cultural sites may soon be designated alongside the city’s architectural landmarks, adding to the diversity of places officially recognized by the city.”

The six LGBT historic sites calendared by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission for public hearing on Tuesday, June 4th, are:

  • Audre Lorde Residence, on Staten Island
  • Caffe Cino, in Greenwich Village
  • The LGBT Community Center, in Greenwich Village
  • James Baldwin Residence, on the Upper West Side
  • Women’s Liberation Center, in Chelsea
  • Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse, in SoHo

Learn more about each site below.

“We’re immensely proud of our work and pleased that it could be used by the Commission to establish the significance of these six sites, which we hope represent the beginning of continued recognition of LGBT sites as significant to New York City and American history,” said Ken Lustbader, co-director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. “Literally hundreds of other NYC sites, from the Walt Whitman Residence in Brooklyn to Julius’ Bar in Greenwich Village to the Billy Strayhorn & Aaron Bridgers Residence in Harlem, merit further consideration for formal designation as cultural landmarks.”

“We are thankful to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission and its chair, Sarah Carroll, for understanding the importance of these cultural landmarks and taking this important first step for possible landmark designation,” said Amanda Davis, manager of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. “And we are especially grateful for City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who has championed our Project and our advocacy to ensure LGBT historic sites are among those recognized by the City as significant to our history.” The Speaker recently hinted at forthcoming landmarking news regarding LGBT sites when accepting the “Friends in High Places” award from city-wide advocate Historic Districts Council.

For more than two decades, co-directors of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project have researched and advocated for the recognition of sites which speak to the impact of LGBT history and people on New York City and American culture. In 2015, the website www.nyclgbtsites.org was launched to share this pioneering place-based study of NYC’s LGBT history with the public. Last year, the Project completed the Historic Context Statement for LGBT History in New York City, a first-of-its-kind framework for evaluating sites for LGBT significance, that was shared with the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. To date, nearly 200 historic sites have been researched, photographed and published online to promote the cultural contributions of LGBT people and to draw focus to sites which, often, are unrecognized. The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project’s work is making an invisible history visible.

Learn more about the six LGBT historic sites that have been calendared for landmark designation by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission by visiting their full entries at www.nyclgbtsites.org:

Audre Lorde Residence
207 St. Paul’s Avenue, Staten Island
Acclaimed black lesbian feminist, writer, and activist Audre Lorde lived here with her partner and two children from 1972 to 1987. While here, Lorde was a prolific writer who authored numerous influential books, co-founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, and spoke at the 1979 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. (more)

Caffe Cino
31 Cornelia Street, Manhattan
The Caffe Cino is widely recognized as the birthplace of Off-Off-Broadway theater and was located on the ground floor of this building from 1958 to 1968. It is also highly significant as a pioneer in the development of gay theater, at a time when it was still illegal to depict homosexuality on stage. The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project successfully nominated the Cino to the State and National Registers of HIstoric Places in 2017. (more)

LGBT Community Center
208 West 13th Street, Manhattan
Since 1983, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Community Center has served as a vital support system for hundreds of thousands of people and has witnessed the founding of ACT UP, GLAAD, Las Buenas Amigas, Queer Nation, and the Lesbian Avengers, and for many years was the meeting location for the Metropolitan Community Church of New York and SAGE. The Gender Identity Project, which was established here in 1989, is the longest running service provider for the transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) community in the state. (more)

James Baldwin Residence
137 West 71st Street, Manhattan
Literary icon and civil rights activist James Baldwin used this Upper West Side remodeled rowhouse as his New York City residence from 1965 until his death in 1987. Although he generally eschewed labels and did not self-identify as gay, Baldwin wrote several novels that featured gay and bisexual characters and spoke openly about same-sex relationships and LGBT issues. Just this month, the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project completed its nomination of the Baldwin Residence to the New York State Register of Historic Places. It is currently being reviewed by the State and, if accepted, will then be reviewed by the Department of the Interior for the National Register of Historic Places. (more)

Women’s Liberation Center
243 West 20th Street
In the early 1970s, the Women’s Liberation Center was founded as an important meeting space for many women’s groups, including those that specifically served the lesbian community. The Center operated here from 1972 to 1987. (more)

Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse
99 Wooster Street, Manhattan
The Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) formed in December 1969 and became the most influential American gay liberation political activist organization in the early 1970s. From 1971 to 1974, GAA used this firehouse in SoHo as its headquarters, which served as New York’s most important LGBT political and cultural community center during these years. (more)

About the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project
The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is a nonprofit cultural initiative and educational resource that is making an invisible history visible by documenting historic and cultural sites associated with the LGBT community throughout New York City.

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