Making New York City’s LGBT Historic Sites Visible
October 2, 2023
By: New York Road Runners
New York City is home to hundreds of sites connected to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history. The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is a cultural heritage initiative that documents and presents the often untold stories of these sites.
In June, as part of our celebration of Pride Month, NYRR staff members went on a walking tour of important LGBT historic sites in Manhattan’s West Village with NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project guide Amanda Davis.
Check out the highlights as we celebrate LGBT History Month this October! For more information about NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project including tours all over the NYC–metro area, visit their website.
New York City AIDS Memorial St. Vincent’s Triangle
Dedicated in 2016, this memorial honors the more than 100,000 New Yorkers who have died of AIDS since the early 1980s and recognizes the contributions of caregivers and activists, many of whom were affiliated with the nearby former St. Vincent’s Hospital. The hospital, demolished in 2013, was “ground zero” of the AIDS epidemic in NYC and housed the largest AIDS ward on the East coast.
Washington Square United Methodist Church & Parish House
135-133 West 4th Street
This church was known for its progressive stance, including its acceptance of the LGBT community; the congregation was led by the pioneering openly gay Reverend Paul M. Abels from 1973 to 1984. The church and parish house provided meeting space for LGBT groups including the Salsa Soul Sisters—the oldest Black lesbian organization in the U.S.—from 1976 to 1987.
31 Cornelia Street
Widely recognized as the birthplace of Off-Off-Broadway theater, the Caffe Cino was located on the ground floor of this building from 1958 to 1968. It was significant in the development of gay theater at a time when it was illegal to depict homosexuality on stage.
Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop
15 Christopher Street
The first gay and lesbian bookstore on the East coast, this bookshop moved in 1973 from its original home on Mercer Street to its more prominent location near the center of NYC’s gay life. Also serving as a community center, it remained here for 35 years.
51-53 Christopher Street
From June 28 to July 3, 1969, LGBT patrons of the Stonewall Inn and members of the local community took the unusual action of fighting back during a routine police raid at the bar. These events are seen as a key turning point and a catalyst for explosive growth in the gay rights movement that began in the United States in 1950 with the founding of the Mattachine Society in Los Angeles. In the immediate aftermath, large numbers of groups formed around the country.
Stonewall became the first LGBT site in the country to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1999) and named a National Historic Landmark (2000).