overview

While their significance is often underestimated or dismissed by heterosexual society, bars and other establishments played a pivotal role throughout the 20th century — but particularly in the pre-Stonewall era — as centers for LGBT activism and community.

These spaces, whether always gay friendly or only during certain times of the day or week, gave LGBT people the freedom to be themselves in a way they usually could not be in their personal or professional lives.

This curated collection largely reflects the bar and nightlife scene of downtown Manhattan; as we research more sites we encourage you to reach out to us with suggestions in upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs.

Header Photo caption

Truman Capote (center) with Liza Minelli and Steve Rubell at Studio 54 in an undated photo. Photographer and source unknown.

On the Map

 

Featured Historic Sites (11)

A
129 Macdougal Street
“Eve Addams’” Tearoom was a popular after-theater club run by Polish-Jewish lesbian émigré Eva Kotchever (Czlotcheber) from 1925 to 1926. It closed when she was convicted of obscenity and disorderly... Learn More
B
116 7th Avenue South
Stewart’s Cafeteria, later the Life Cafeteria, was located in this Greenwich Village building in the 1930s and attracted a bohemian and gay and lesbian following. The large plate glass windows... Learn More
C
130 West 3rd Street
Tony Pastor’s Downtown, in business from 1939 to 1967, was a mob-backed club with a mixed clientele but popular with lesbians. The New York State Liquor Authority revoked its liquor... Learn More
D
3 Hyatt Street
From at least the late 1950s to the late 1960s, Staten Island’s popular Mayfair Bar & Grill catered to gay patrons. Credit: Amanda Davis/NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, 2016.  ... Learn More
E
1084 Bergen Street
In 1962, openly gay African-American entrepreneur Harold “Mackie” Harris purchased the Starlite Lounge and established it as an LGBT-inclusive bar. Before being forced to close in 2010 after the building... Learn More
F
159 West 10th Street
On April 21, 1966, a "Sip-In" was organized by members of the Mattachine Society, one of the country’s earliest gay rights organizations, to challenge the State Liquor Authority's discriminatory policy... Learn More
G
82 West 3rd Street
Tenth of Always operated here from around 1968 to 1972 and was where artist Andy Warhol met Candy Darling, a trans woman who would become a Warhol Superstar. Bonnie &... Learn More
H
394-395 West Street
The Ramrod on the Hudson River waterfront was one of New York’s most popular leather bars in the 1970s. It was the site of one of Greenwich Village’s most notoriously... Learn More
I
254 West 54th Street
In 1977, Studio 54 opened and became one of the world’s most famous discos with a fusion of gay, bisexual, and straight patrons. Owners Steven Rubell and Ian Schrager modeled... Learn More
J
84 King Street
Between 1977 and 1987, the Paradise Garage was one of the most important and influential clubs in New York City with a devoted patronage comprised of sexual and ethnic minorities... Learn More
K
63-14 Roosevelt Avenue
Since the early 1990s, the Bum Bum Bar (pronounced “boom boom”) has been catering to a predominately Latina lesbian clientele in Queens. Credit: Christopher D. Brazee/NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project,... Learn More