About the Project
Where did lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) history happen in New York City? In what buildings did influential LGBT activists and artists live and work, and on what streets did groups demonstrate for their equal rights? These are the kinds of historic places – dating from the city’s founding in the 17th century to the year 2000 – that we are continuously documenting so that our project reflects the diversity of the LGBT community throughout the five boroughs. View list of all historic sites currently included on our website.
The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is a scholarly initiative and educational resource that officially began in August 2015 and is based on over 25 years of research and advocacy by our founders and directors, Andrew Dolkart, Ken Lustbader, and Jay Shockley. While part of the Organization of Lesbian and Gay Architects + Designers (OLGAD), they helped create the nation’s first map for LGBT historic sites in 1994.
The goal of the project is to broaden people’s knowledge of LGBT history beyond Stonewall and to place that history in a geographical context. Our interactive map features sites that are important to LGBT history as well as those that illustrate the community’s influence on America. You will find sites that show the impact that the LGBT community has had in fields such as the arts, literature, and social justice. You will also discover important gathering spaces, such as bars, clubs, and community centers that, until fairly recently, were the only places where LGBT people could come together and be themselves in a way that they often could not be in their personal and professional lives.
Separate from the interactive map, we are working to increase LGBT representation on the National Register of Historic Places, in fulfillment of a 2014 Underrepresented Communities grant from the National Park Service. The National Register is the federal government’s honorary list of sites deemed significant to American history and includes over 93,500 sites across the country, yet the LGBT community remains vastly underrepresented with less than twenty sites. As part of this mission, we wrote the Historic Context Statement for LGBT History in New York City (2018) to help guide the New York State Historic Preservation Office in evaluating LGBT historic sites. We are also surveying sites that appear eligible for official listing and are nominating sites to the National Register of Historic Places; see what has been listed so far in New York City.
We hope that our website inspires the LGBT community and youth, who are often not taught this history, in particular. Now more than ever it is important to raise public awareness about the community’s contributions to American history as well as the struggles it has faced in achieving acceptance and equality under the law. Our project encourages you to take a second look at the physical places you walk past every day and to appreciate a history that, until our initiative, has largely been invisible.
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