On Harvey Milk Day, remember his New York roots

May 22, 2024
By: Matt Tracy

Harvey Milk sits at Mayor George Moscone’s desk in 1978.
WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/DANIEL NICOLETT

The late Harvey Milk became known for his work in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco: That was where he opened a business, built political power, and made history when he won an election to become a city supervisor. As the nation marks Harvey Milk Day on May 22, many pictures circulating social media show him engaging in gay rights activism against the backdrop of the Bay area.

However, what is not as widely known is that the gay political icon spent the first four decades of his life in New York State. He grew up in Long Island — first in Nassau County before graduating high school in Suffolk County — and went on to attend college at what is now known as SUNY Albany, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree. He later became a teacher in Long Island and worked in finance in Manhattan.

Some of Milk’s earliest known gay experiences were based in New York City. According to Randy Shilts’ book, “The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk,” Milk met his future partner, Joe Campbell, in the summer of 1956 at Riis Beach — a popular oceanside LGBTQ hangout spot in Queens.

“A few weeks later, Joe left home and moved into Harvey Milk’s apartment in suburban Rego Park,” the book stated (Rego Park is actually within the confines of Queens).

Years before that, in 1947, Milk was busted for cruising in Central Park, according to Shilts.

When he was still in New York, Milk was also romantically involved with Craig Rodwell, who founded the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop and made waves as a gay rights activist, participating in demonstrations such as the “sip-in” at Julius’ Bar that helped eliminate state liquor policies barring the sale of alcohol to gay people. Milk met Rodwell in Central Park, Shilts wrote.

Milk subsequently moved several times — even returning to New York — as he continued to refine his identity before settling in San Francisco.

Milk made his mark on the Big Apple — and the non-profit NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project outlined several places in the city associated with Milk during the years before he went out west.

One of the historic sites is 360 Central Park West, where Milk and Campbell lived in an apartment from 1958 to 1962, according to the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, which noted that Milk lived there for another year after the couple broke up. The apartment was across the street from Central Park on a street corner near W. 96th St., just steps from what is now the 96th St. B and C subway station.

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project also lists Central Park as one of the locations tied to Milk — which makes sense given that Milk was arrested there for cruising and where he met Rodwell. Central Park is also historically known as a popular cruising spot for gay men.

Another location associated with Milk is 2 Astor Pl., which was where Milk posthumously made what was arguably his most significant contribution to New York’s LGBTQ community. That location later became the site of Harvey Milk High School thanks to the work of the Institute for the Protection of Lesbian and Gay Youth, which later became the Hetrick Martin Institute.

One more historic site with links to Milk is 112 E. 3rd St., which was where the Institute for the Protection of Lesbian and Gay Youth opened its first office — ultimately paving the way for the school that would be named after Milk.

While he led a quieter life in New York, Milk embraced his sexuality and became more visible once he moved to San Francisco. In 1977, he became the first out gay man elected to public office in California, but he was assassinated a year later when he and Mayor George Moscone were shot and killed by City Supervisor Dan White.

LGBTQ New Yorkers and electeds urge CB5 to condemn anti-trans education council resolution

April 12, 2024
By: Matt Tracy

Tom Duane speaking
Former State Senator Thomas Duane speaks during a Community Board 5 meeting on April 11. ZOOM/COMMUNITY BOARD 5

One by one, LGBTQ New Yorkers and elected officials spoke up during Manhattan Community Board 5’s meeting at Xavier High School on April 11 to urge its members to formally condemn an anti-trans sports resolution approved by Community Education Council District 2 (CEC2) last month.

The meeting represented the latest development in the aftermath of CEC2’s widely-criticized March 20 resolution, which called for a new committee that could review and potentially oppose trans inclusion in school sports. The resolution was non-binding and New York education officials have reaffirmed that students can play sports in accordance with their gender identity, but the vote nonetheless sparked concern that the national backlash against trans athletes could gain steam in New York — especially after Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman fueled outrage with an executive order barring trans athletes from using sports facilities in the county.

Community education councils, which are separate from the Department of Education, are meant to give members of the public an opportunity to speak out about school-related issues — and some CEC2 schools are located in the same district as Community Board 5, which stretches from 59th Street down to 14th Street between Eighth Avenue and Lexington Avenue. Community boards also play an advisory role and consist of 50 members appointed by the borough president and city lawmakers.

The Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, a citywide LGBTQ political club, and the statewide education and advocacy non-profit New Pride Agenda showed up in force at Community Board 5’s meeting to encourage members to pass a resolution of their own condemning the education council’s resolution.

“I’m here to profess my profound disappointment in the actions of CEC2 and the resolution that seeks to keep transgender kids from participating in sports aligned with their gender identity,” said Cathy Marino-Thomas, a member of Stonewall and a longtime LGBTQ activist who previously served as the executive director and later the board chair of Marriage Equality NY.

Marino-Thomas called on the board to “take a stand against discrimination” by issuing its own resolution in opposition to the CEC2 vote.

“As a queer mother, I understand the importance of creating an inclusive and supportive environment for our children regardless of their gender identity,” Marino-Thomas said. “Allowing transgender children to have the opportunity to participate in sports teams that align with their gender identity is not only a matter of basic human rights, it is also a crucial step toward fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance.”

Stonewall board member Caleb Simmons, who works in the district, also slammed the resolution, saying such a policy would “rob” trans student-athletes of the “crucial childhood experience of fostering connection and a sense of shared belonging.”

“Please do not allow bigots to hijack prestigious bodies such as yours,” Simmons said.

Caleb Simmons speaking
Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City board member Caleb Simmons. ZOOM/COMMUNITY BOARD 5

Elisa Crespo, the executive director of New Pride Agenda, joined the meeting virtually to denounce what she described as “a troubling trend that’s happening in our city,” referring to the CEC2 resolution. The resolution, she said, sends a signal to young people — especially trans youth — that they do not belong in sports.

“The fact is that trans youth deserve to play sports that align with their gender identity and the crisis that we’re seeing play out is completely manufactured and not based in fact,” Crespo said. “We in New York City must speak up. We must let anti-trans folks know that it is not OK in New York City.”

Out gay former State Senator Thomas Duane — the first out member of the State Legislature and one of two of the first out members of the City Council — delivered impassioned remarks in support of young trans athletes as he called on the community board to take a strong stand against the CEC2 resolution.

“Whoever wrote this hopes they’ll do damaging things to children,” Duane said before pausing and slowing down for emphasis. “Not allowing children to play sports among people of their gender is wrong, unhealthy, and we’re not in Arizona in the 1800s.”

Duane reminded attendees that he sponsored the Dignity for All Students Act, a law which protects LGBTQ students in New York State, and he pointed to the great deal of research affirming transgender youth as he made his case.

“Every scientific, every psychological association, every psychiatrist, the medical associations, the NIH… all say that those who participate in sport should participate with the gender in which they feel most comfortable,” said Duane, who added that “this issue has been studied to death.”

Duane said he would be in attendance when the board opts to vote on the issue in the future. Samir Lavingia, the chair of Community Board 5, told Gay City News the board does not have a position on CEC2’s resolution and will need to discuss it and vote on it before taking a stance.

“I am speaking to the chair of the relevant committee to discuss the path forward on this item and we are hoping to get this onto the Budget, Education & City Services Committee meeting agenda at the end of the month on April 30,” Lavingia said.

The controversy has brought renewed attention to the backgrounds of some CEC2 members, including Maud Maron, who spoke at a Moms for Liberty event in January and was a sponsor of CEC2’s anti-trans sports resolution. Craig Slutzkin, who is listed as the second vice chair of Community Board 5, is also a listed as member of CEC2. Although the vote breakdown on the anti-trans sports resolution has not been posted publicly, Queens Chronicle reported that Slutzkin, who is president of Townsend Harris High School’s alumni association, has faced backlash from students at that school who signed a petition criticizing his vote in support of the resolution. According to Queens Chronicle, Slutzkin defended his vote by saying that the resolution sought to give “families a safe forum to have respectful yet difficult conversations about how school sports are organized” and that “there was no call for any bans.”

Gabriel Lewenstein, who was elected president of Stonewall earlier this year, told Gay City News on April 12 that members of the political club and New Pride Agenda felt it was important to attend the meeting to ramp up pressure on the board to take action against CEC2’s resolution, which he is concerned could contribute to bullying and harassment against trans youth.

“In Manhattan, the heart of New York City, the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ rights movement, this community supports LGBTQ people and supports trans kids,” said Lewenstein, who added that advocates wanted the board to send a message to trans kids that they are “welcome and allowed to be who they are.”

Elected officials who spoke out against the CEC2 resolution during the meeting included Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, Manhattan Assemblymember Harvey Epstein, and Manhattan Councilmember Erik Bottcher.

Other community boards are also in the process of developing a response to the CEC2 resolution, including Manhattan’s Community Board 2, which told Gay City News that its Arts, Culture, Education, and School Committee on April 8 voted to recommend a letter in opposition to the resolution. Bottcher also noted that Community Board 4 is working on a resolution in response to CEC2. Community Board 4 could not immediately be reached for comment on April 12.

Trans Lives Matter: Celebrating international Transgender Day of Visibility with the MTA’s help

March 30, 2024
By: ET Rodriguez

Bernie Wagenblast near subway station
Bernie Wagenblast aka the “voice of the subway” who came out as trans in 2023, is the host of the new mini-series podcast, “InTransit,” brining awareness to trans people.
Photo ET Rodriguez

This Sunday, March 31 marks the 16th annual International Transgender Day of Visibility. In celebration, New York City Transit, NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project and the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center joined forces to create a new awareness campaign: “InTransit: Guiding 2.4 million daily riders to respect trans people.”

The initiative will run for a week at the Christopher Street-Sheridan Square train station and features posters directing riders to intransit.nyc. Once on the site, straphangers can learn about trans people in the Big Apple dating back to the 17th Century via the fictitious “T Line.”

The project highlights the stories of 17 NYC landmarks throughout trans history, like the Stonewall monument in Christopher Park and the drag balls at the Imperial Lodge of Elks in Harlem.

“Trans stories existed way before this has become the issue du jour,” said Ken Lustbader, co-director of the NYC LGBT historic sites project. “New York City has been a melting pot of trans lives and we’ve documented that, so there’s no way that that history can be erased.”

Bernie Wagenblast poses with a fan
Bernie Wagenblast poses with a fan at the launch of the new awareness campaign at the Christopher Street-Sheridan Square train station.
Photo ET Rodriguez

Riders can also tune in to the new podcast mini-series, “InTransit” hosted by the “voice of the subway,” Bernie Wagenblast. The name may not ring a bell, but the voice will as Wagenblast is better known from her booming and ominous announcements warning people to “please stand away from the platform edge.”

Wagenblast came out as transgender on Jan. 1, 2023 and sits down with several guests on the seven-episode podcast to discuss issues trans people face as well as where they can find resources to live happy and healthy lives.

“Visibility is so important because when people see someone that’s different, they come to understand the person — not some stereotype,” Wagenblast told amNewYork Metro. “Hopefully I can increase that visibility.”

“InTransit: Guiding 2.4 million daily riders to respect trans people" billboard
A new awareness campaign, “InTransit: Guiding 2.4 million daily riders to respect trans people,” will run for a week at the Christopher Street train station. Posters beckon commuters to provide space for trans people and learn about trans history in NYC through an interactive map and mini-series podcast, “InTransit” hosted by the voice of the subway, Bernie Wagenblast.
Photo ET Rodriguez
A map highlights the stops of the fictitious “T Line”
A map highlights the stops of the fictitious “T Line” that charts historic landmarks of trans history in NYC as part of the new awareness campaign.
Photo ET Rodriguez

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 2023 set a record with more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced across the country ranging from banning trans students the right to participate in school sports to banning adults from using restrooms that coincide with their gender identity and scores of anti-LGBTQ+ bills were signed into law. As a result, the HRC declared a national state of emergency for the LGBTQ+ community. But the damage didn’t end there as trans people continue to be the target of hate crimes that turn fatal.

“It’s kind of hard to believe,” said Patrick McGovern, CEO of Callen-Lorde, the leading healthcare provider targeting trans people in NYC. “But we’re seeing similar trends in reproductive rights. We’re losing ground in ways that I don’t think any of us would have thought possible even a few years ago.”

However, McGovern also recognized New York State’s leadership on protecting access to health and ensuring that the state remains a safe haven for the entire LGBTQ+ community.

Christopher Park which sits outside of the Christopher Street train station
Christopher Park which sits outside of the Christopher Street train station houses the Stonewall National Monument which recognizes the history of the Stonewall Riots of 1969 in NYC.
Photo ET Rodriguez

Established in 2009, International Transgender Day of Visibility started to grow legs when Rachel Crandall Crocker was fired from her job as a psychotherapist and lost her marriage after she came out as trans in 1997. But from the ashes rose a phoenix.

“My work wasn’t aware that they were creating a worldwide activist,” Crocker told amNewYork Metro. “If I wasn’t discriminated against so much, I don’t think I ever would have created all the things I did.”

That same year, Crocker co-founded Transgender Michigan, an organization dedicated to providing mental health and resources to trans people. She continued with her activism, but it was the advent of Facebook that helped give her cause a platform when she created a group calling for recognition of transgender people. It took some time to gain traction, but with Crocker’s perseverance, she soon had activists and leaders from around the world reaching out and wanting to join in her effort.

“I wanted a day that we could celebrate being alive,” said Crocker. “The only day we had was the [Transgender] Day of Remembrance [established in 1999] which is when we remembered those who were killed just from being trans.”

Help bring awareness and visibility to the transgender community by visiting intransit.nyc where you can listen to the stories you didn’t know you didn’t know.

And Rachel Crandall Crocker wants to remind everyone, “you don’t have to be perfect to change the world – you just have to be you.”

Read the original story at AM New York here.

Bernie Wagenblast, out trans ‘voice of the subway,’ rolls out podcast and visibility campaign

March 29, 2024
By: Donna Aceto & Matt Tracy

Ken Lustbader, Finn Brigham and Patrick McGovern, Bernie Wagenblast pose with billboard
From left to right: Ken Lustbader of the LGBT Historic Sites Project; Finn Brigham and Patrick McGovern of Callen-Lorde Community Health Center; and Bernie Wagenblast at the Christopher Street-Sheridan Square station.
DONNA ACETO

Millions of subway riders have heard Bernie Wagenblast’s voice, but only a small fraction of straphangers know who she is. That’s all about to change!

Wagenblast, who is known as the “voice of the subway” and came out as transgender last year, is stepping into the spotlight for a new transgender awareness campaign that will feature a podcast mini-series, hosted by Wagenblast herself, called “InTransit.”
Up Next – RELATED NEWS: – Roundup of Transgender Day of Visibility events in NYC

The new campaign was announced on March 29 — just in time for International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31 — at the Christopher Street-Sheridan Square subway station, where the installation includes posters and digital billboards to spread trans-inclusive messages and inform riders about the forthcoming podcast. The podcast — which already has two episodes on Spotify — aims to educate members of the public about gender identity, appropriate language, and more.

Bernie Wagenblast
Bernie Wagenblast.
DONNA ACETO

Wagenblast joined stakeholders at the Christopher Street-Sheridan Square station on March 29 to roll out the campaign. AREA 23, a healthcare marketing agency, created the campaign with support from Callen-Lorde Community Health Center and the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

“I know how much visibility matters and I hope, by sharing my story, folks will be reminded that transgender people are a part of their everyday life each time they hear me making an announcement,” Wagenblast said in a written statement announcing the new campaign.

As for the campaign itself, it is hard to miss for any rider passing through the station. In one area of the station, back-to-back-to-back digital screens perched on the wall combine into one animation that reads, “The voice that has guided people in transit will now guide you to understand trans people,” followed by a promotional message previewing the podcast.

A set of digital billboards highlight the awareness campaign
A set of digital billboards highlight the awareness campaign.
DONNA ACETO

The station also has a billboard painted on the wall, stating, “A new way to see trans people: listening.” The bottom corner of the ad showcases the logo for the podcast, while the top corner features a QR code for easy digital access.

“This is an opportunity to share Bernie’s story as a way to help raise visibility for transgender people and celebrate their contributions and milestones while also raising awareness for the discrimination that many face around the globe,” David Taini, the group creative director at Area 23, said in a written statement.

Campaign posters on TDOV
The campaign also features posters on the wall in the station.
DONNA ACETO

Ken Lustbader, who is the co-director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, acknowledged that the announcement coincided with International Transgender Day of Visibility.

“As we recognize Transgender Day of Visibility, it’s crucial to also understand that trans people have always existed, making their own history as they pursue healthy, safe, and joyful lives,” Lustbader said in a written statement. “‘In Transit’ and the T Line have the power to introduce large numbers of New Yorkers to place-based trans history, right here in their own city. From the 19th century residence of Murray Hall to medical offices where ground-breaking care was provided as early as the 1940s, these extant sites allow for a visceral connection to an often overlooked history.”

Patrick McGovern, the CEO of Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, stressed the importance of the visibility campaign in the face of transphobia across the country.

“The resilience of the trans community has paved the way for LGBTQ+ rights across the country, and their stories deserve to be amplified and celebrated,” McGovern said. “At a time when LGBTQ+ healthcare is under attack, Callen-Lorde is proud to serve as a safe haven for queer and trans people who need knowledgeable and welcoming healthcare–as we have for more than 55 years.”

Read the original story at Gay City News here.

Steve Ostrow, who founded famed NYC bathhouse the Continental Baths, dies at 91

February 13, 2024
By: Associated Press

Steve Ostrow onstage at the Continental Baths in 1972
Steve Ostrow onstage at the Continental Baths in 1972, four years after he founded the Manhattan bathhouse and music venue as a sanctuary for gay New Yorkers. (Pierre Venant/WWD/Penske Media/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Steve Ostrow, who founded the trailblazing New York City gay bathhouse the Continental Baths, where Bette Midler, Barry Manilow and other famous artists launched their careers, has died. He was 91.

The Brooklyn native died Feb. 4 in his adopted home of Sydney, Australia, according to an obituary in The Sydney Morning Herald.

“Steve’s story is an inspiration to all creators and a celebration of New York City and its denizens,” Toby Usnik, a friend and spokesperson at the British Consulate General in New York, posted on X.

Ostrow opened the Continental Baths in 1968 in the basement of the Ansonia Hotel, a once grand Beaux Arts landmark on Manhattan’s Upper West Side that had fallen on hard times.

He transformed the hotel’s massive basement, with its dilapidated pools and Turkish baths, into an opulently decorated, Roman-themed bathhouse.

The multi-level venue was not just an incubator for a music and dance revolution deeply rooted in New York City’s gay scene, but also for the LGBTQ community’s broader political and social awakening, which would culminate with the Stonewall protests in lower Manhattan, said Ken Lustbader of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, a group that researches places of historic importance to the city’s LGBTQ community.

“Steve identified a need,” he said. “Bathhouses in the late 1960s were more rundown and ragged, and he said, ‘Why don’t I open something that is going to be clean, new and sparkle, where I could attract a whole new clientele’?”

Privately-run bathhouses proliferated in the 1970s, offering a haven for gay and bisexual men to meet during a time when laws prevented same-sex couples from even dancing together. When AIDS emerged in the 1980s, though, bathhouses were blamed for helping spread the disease and were forced to close or shuttered voluntarily.

The Continental Baths initially featured a disco floor, a pool with a waterfall, sauna rooms and private rooms, according to NYC LGBT Historic Sites’ website.

As its popularity soared, Ostrow added a cabaret stage, labyrinth, restaurant, bar, gym, travel desk and medical clinic. There was even a sun deck on the hotel’s rooftop complete with imported beach sand and cabanas.

Lustbader said at its peak, the Continental Baths was open 24 hours a day and seven days a week, with some 10,000 people visiting its roughly 400 rooms each week.

“It was quite the establishment,” he said. “People would check in on Friday night and not leave until Sunday.”

The Continental Baths also became a destination for groundbreaking music, with its DJs shaping the dance sounds that would become staples of pop culture.

A young Bette Midler performed on the poolside stage with a then-unknown Barry Manilow accompanying her on piano, cementing her status as an LGBTQ icon.

But as its musical reputation drew a wider, more mainstream audience, the club’s popularity among the gay community waned, and it closed its doors in 1976. The following year, Plato’s Retreat, a swinger’s club catering to heterosexual couples, opened in the basement space.

Ostrow moved to Australia in the 1980s, where he served as director of the Sydney Academy of Vocal Arts, according to his obituary. He also founded Mature Age Gays, a social group for older members of Australia’s LGBTQ community.

“We are very grateful for the legacy of MAG that Steve left us,” Steve Warren, the group’s president, wrote in a post on its website. “Steve’s loss will leave a big hole in our heart but he will never be forgotten.”

Read the original story at the Washington Post here.

Steve Ostrow, who founded famed NYC bathhouse the Continental Baths, dies at 91

February 12, 2024
By: Philip Marcelo

NEW YORK (AP) — Steve Ostrow, who founded the trailblazing New York City gay bathhouse the Continental Baths, where Bette Midler, Barry Manilow and other famous artists launched their careers, has died. He was 91.

The Brooklyn native died Feb. 4 in his adopted home of Sydney, Australia, according to an obituary in The Sydney Morning Herald.

“Steve’s story is an inspiration to all creators and a celebration of New York City and its denizens,” Toby Usnik, a friend and spokesperson at the British Consulate General in New York, posted on X.

Ostrow opened the Continental Baths in 1968 in the basement of the Ansonia Hotel, a once grand Beaux Arts landmark on Manhattan’s Upper West Side that had fallen on hard times.

He transformed the hotel’s massive basement, with its dilapidated pools and Turkish baths, into an opulently decorated, Roman-themed bathhouse.

The multi-level venue was not just an incubator for a music and dance revolution deeply rooted in New York City’s gay scene, but also for the LGBTQ community’s broader political and social awakening, which would culminate with the Stonewall protests in lower Manhattan, said Ken Lustbader of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, a group that researches places of historic importance to the city’s LGBTQ community.

“Steve identified a need,” he said. “Bathhouses in the late 1960s were more rundown and ragged, and he said, ‘Why don’t I open something that is going to be clean, new and sparkle, where I could attract a whole new clientele’?”

Privately-run bathhouses proliferated in the 1970s, offering a haven for gay and bisexual men to meet during a time when laws prevented same-sex couples from even dancing together. When AIDS emerged in the 1980s, though, bathhouses were blamed for helping spread the disease and were forced to close or shuttered voluntarily.

The Continental Baths initially featured a disco floor, a pool with a waterfall, sauna rooms and private rooms, according to NYC LGBT Historic Sites’ website.

As its popularity soared, Ostrow added a cabaret stage, labyrinth, restaurant, bar, gym, travel desk and medical clinic. There was even a sun deck on the hotel’s rooftop complete with imported beach sand and cabanas.

Lustbader said at its peak, the Continental Baths was open 24 hours a day and seven days a week, with some 10,000 people visiting its roughly 400 rooms each week.

“It was quite the establishment,” he said. “People would check in on Friday night and not leave until Sunday.”

The Continental Baths also became a destination for groundbreaking music, with its DJs shaping the dance sounds that would become staples of pop culture.

A young Bette Midler performed on the poolside stage with a then-unknown Barry Manilow accompanying her on piano, cementing her status as an LGBTQ icon.

But as its musical reputation drew a wider, more mainstream audience, the club’s popularity among the gay community waned, and it closed its doors in 1976. The following year, Plato’s Retreat, a swinger’s club catering to heterosexual couples, opened in the basement space.

Ostrow moved to Australia in the 1980s, where he served as director of the Sydney Academy of Vocal Arts, according to his obituary. He also founded Mature Age Gays, a social group for older members of Australia’s LGBTQ community.

“We are very grateful for the legacy of MAG that Steve left us,” Steve Warren, the group’s president, wrote in a post on its website. “Steve’s loss will leave a big hole in our heart but he will never be forgotten.”

Read the original story at Associated Press here.

Dozens of NYC’s LGBTQ historic sites in the spotlight for Black History Month

February 2, 2024
By: Matt Tracy

Marsha P. Johnson State Park i
Marsha P. Johnson State Park is one of the 48 locations included in the NYC LGBT Historic Sites’ Black History Month collection.
WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / MMZACH

Dozens of New York City locations are being highlighted this month as part of a collection commemorating Black History Month — including spots ranging from the late Audre Lorde’s residence to the Mt. Morris Baths, which was a popular bathhouse among gay Black men beginning in the 1920s until it closed in 2003.

The collection is one of the latest works of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, which is part of the non-profit Fund for the City of New York and has long focused on spotlighting the history surrounding important physical locations in the city’s queer community.

Many of the 48 locations have changed in appearance or structure over the years, but the vast majority of the ones included in the collection are still standing. Just two of them — Paradise Garage, a former club at 84 King St., and Hotel Olga at 695 Lenox Ave. in Harlem — have been demolished.

The locations are scattered across the city in every borough except Queens. Some of the most notable places on the list include James Baldwin’s residence at 137 W. 71st St., where he lived for the last two decades of his life, and Marsha P. Johnson State Park — which just opened in 2020 — at 90 Kent Ave. in Brooklyn. But there are also spaces that are well known among New Yorkers, such as the Apollo Theater at 253 W. 125th St. in Harlem and Bellevue Hospital at 462 First Ave. in the Kips Bay section of Manhattan, where the late Marsha P. Johnson was once pictured at a Gay Liberation Front demonstration calling out the hospital’s abusive treatments and experimentations on LGBTQ people.

Audre Lorde
The late Audre Lorde’s residence is one of the 48 locations in the LGBT Historic Sites Project’s Black History Month collection.
WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / ELSA DORFMAN

Other spots include the location where Ali Forney was killed at the corner of E. 135th St. and Fifth Ave. in 1997. Forney was a gender non-conforming young person who struggled with homelessness, and in 2002, the Ali Forney Center — which provides housing and services to homeless queer youth — was named after them.

Some of the rather unassuming historic locations are the residences that blend in with the local neighborhoods, such as the former home of Pauli Murray, a Black civil rights attorney and author who was in a long-term relationship with Irene “Renee” Barlow and lived at 388 Chauncey St. in Brooklyn in what appeared to be a three-story home. Other inconspicuous locations include the former home of civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, who lived in an apartment at Building 7, Penn South in the Chelsea section of Manhattan from 1962 until he died in 1987. His residence is also on the New York State Register of Historic Places and National Register of Historic Places.

Back uptown, some other buildings on the list include the one at 160-164 W. 129th St. in Manhattan, which was home to the Imperial Lodge of Elks, AKA the Elks Lounge, as seen in “Paris Is Burning.” Just blocks away from there was the conveniently-located Mt. Morris Baths, which was one of the longest-running bathhouses in New York City and, according to the LGBT Historic Sites Project, the only gay bathhouse willing to welcome Black men until the 1960s. However, even after health officials cracked down on bathhouses in the mid-80s due to the HIV/AIDS crisis, the Mt. Morris Baths persisted. The bathhouse discouraged public sex and prioritized education about HIV/AIDS, according to the LGBT Historic Sites Project, though it was ultimately closed in 2003 due to structural issues.

Staten Island only has two spots on the list, but they do not disappoint: One is the residence of activist and writer Audre Lorde and her partner Frances Clayton, along with their children, at 207 St. Paul’s Ave.; the other is the former residence of Michelle Cliff, a Jamaican-born author who lived at 45 Belmont Place. Also on the list is the home of the Audre Lorde Project, at 85 South Oxford St. in Brooklyn.

Houses of Worship also have a place on the list. Washington Square United Methodist Church and Parish House, at 135 and 133 W. Fourth St., which was led by out gay reverend Paul Abels in the 1970s and 1980s, doubled up as a meeting venue for LGBTQ groups such as the Salsa Soul Sisters, an early Black lesbian organization which gathered there from 1976 until 1987.

Bars on the list include Café Society/Ridiculous Theatrical Company, which was known as the city’s first integrated club and was located at 1 Sheridan Square; 70 Grove St., where several lesbian bars called home from the 1970s to the 1990s, including Pandora’s Box, which was popular among Black and Latinx lesbians; and Starlite Lounge, which was owned by Harold “Machie” Harris and had a reputation for being the “oldest Black-owned non-discriminating bar in New York,” according to the LGBT Historic Sites Project. Harris purchased the lounge in 1962 and it lasted until 2010 when it was forced to close due to a building sale.

See the complete list of locations and their historic significance — as well as a map pinpointing each spot — at nyclgbtsites.org/theme/black-history-month.

Read the original story at Gay City News here.

Paul Rudolph’s Modulightor Building is now an NYC landmark

December 19, 2023
By: Aaron Ginsburg

The Modulightor Building. Photo credit: Joe Polowczuk

The Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday voted to landmark the Modulightor Building, an iconic building in Midtown East designed by renowned modernist architect Paul Rudolph. Located at 246 East 58th Street, the building was built between 1989 and 1993 to house the Modulightor lighting company founded by Rudolph with German physicist Ernst Wagner. According to the commission, the building stands out for its special character and its historical and aesthetic significance in New York City.

Courtesy of the Paul Rudolph Institute for Modern Architecture

“During his lifetime, Rudolph wished our residence at 23 Beekman Place would become a study and resource center for the architectural community,” Ernst Wagner, Executor of Paul Rudolph’s Estate, said.

“When that didn’t happen, I promised him that I’d use the Modulightor building to fulfill his wish and then created the Paul Rudolph Institute for Modern Architecture. It is fitting that the Modulightor building – designed by and dedicated to Paul Rudolph – will be preserved as a living example of his genius. Thank you to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for ensuring future generations will get to experience and learn from his work.”

After purchasing the property in 1989, Rudolph and Wagner devised a plan to rebuild the structure as a sales showroom for Modulightor and as a residential space. Located on a 20 by 100-foot lot, the building replaced an 1860s row house that had been remodeled into a commercial structure in the early 1960s.

Rudolph acted as the contractor during the first phase of construction and in 1990 he and Wagner moved their offices into the unfinished building. In May 1993, the city’s Department of Buildings issued a certificate of occupancy for the structure’s cellar, first floor, and mezzanine.

Following Rudolph’s death in 1997, Mark Squeo, who worked with the architect during the 1990s, led the second phase of the project, which followed Rudolph’s design by adding a fifth and sixth story. The final phase of construction was completed in 2018.

Since the duplex does not yet meet the LPC’s age criteria for interior landmarks (30 years since the original certificate of occupancy), the apartment interiors are yet not eligible for landmark status.

The Modulightor Building is best known for its distinct front and rear elevations, which are made up of intersecting and overlapping horizontal and vertical rectangles of varying projection and size, according to the LPC. Painted steel I-beams and glass panels form jigsaw-like screens that reference the De Stijl movement, Russian Constructivism, and Mies van der Rohe.

The building includes ground-floor retail space and the duplex apartment, which is currently owned and occupied by the Paul Rudolph Institute for Modern Architecture. Founded in 2015, the Institute hosts monthly tours, making it the only publicly accessible Rudolph building. More information on the tours can be found here.

Other impressive architectural features include a multi-level roof terrace and four cantilevered steel balconies overlooking a rear patio.

Born in 1918 in Kentucky, Rudolph studied at Auburn University and the Harvard Graduate School of Design where he developed his signature modern sculptural aesthetic using industrial materials like concrete and steel, according to the LPC. In the mid-1960s at the peak of his career, while serving as chair of the Yale School of Architecture, Rudolph moved his practice to Manhattan.

During this period, Rudolph designed many prominent buildings, including the Jewett Art Center, the Tuskegee University Chapel, and the Yale School of Art & Architecture, which is now known as Rudolph Hall.

Two Rudolph-designed buildings are already NYC landmarks. The first is the Paul Rudolph Penthouse & Apartment, located at 23 Beekman Place, where Rudolph lived for a large portion of his life. The other is the Halston House, located at 101 East 63rd Street on the Upper East Side.

“This is a great designation partly because there are fewer and fewer Rudolph buildings around and he’s an undeniably important mid-century and later architect in the United States,” Frederick Bland, LPC Commissioner, said.

The Barkin Levin Company Office Pavilion View North Courtesy the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
The Barkin, Levin & Company Office Pavilion. Courtesy of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

The LPC on Tuesday also voted to designate the Barkin, Levin & Company Office Pavilion in Long Island City, Queens, a single-story industrial building that was constructed from 1957 to 1958 and designed by architect Ulrich Franzen in the modern style.

Located on the corner of 13th Street and 33rd Avenue, the building is considered an architectural gem in western Queens. The pavilion stands out for its unusual structure system, which consists of nine concrete pillars that support umbrella-like ceiling vaults projecting beyond glass walls shading the brick paths and interiors, according to the LPC.

“It is no coincidence that you brought these two together,” Jeanne Lutfy, LPC Commissioner, said referring to the two designated landmarks. “These two architects were contemporaries and knew each other. Another interesting thing is that both of these projects are an apparition from their brutalist styles, so they’re a little more refined and they’re definitely an expression of what was going on at this particular time.”

The designation of the Modulightor is the first in the history of the LPC to officially acknowledge an architect’s gay identity. During last month’s public hearing, the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project testified in favor of the designation.

“The building was designed by eminent architect and iconic modernist Paul Rudolph, who was openly gay,” Amanda Davis project manager of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, testified. “While this would not be the first LPC-designated landmark designed by an LGBTQ architect, the designation of The Modulightor Building has the opportunity to be the first in the LPC’s history to officially acknowledge an architect’s gay identity.

“This provides a small but important step in making LGBTQ history visible.”

Read the original story at 6sqft here.

‘Herstory’ walking tour highlights historic lesbian sites in the Village

October 16, 2023
By: Dashiell Allen

Andrew Dolkart gives tour
Andrew Dolkart, a director at the LGBT Historic Sites Project, co-led a lesbian herstory walking tour in the West Village on Sunday, October 15.
DASHIELL ALLEN

The part of Seventh Avenue South where West Fourth Street meets Christopher and Grove Streets is one of the busiest corridors in the West Village. Trendy restaurants and gay bars line the tourist-filled sidewalks and neighboring side streets, while heavy traffic rumbles by on its way to the Holland Tunnel to New Jersey. Unbeknownst to most passersby, however, the southeast corner of Grove and Seventh Avenue South — now home to the trendy pizza chain Two Boots — was, from 1972 to 1982, the Duchess, one of the city’s most popular lesbian bars at the time.

“It’s one of the most beloved sites that we’ve documented on our website from women who remember it,” said Amanda Davis, an architectural historian and project manager at the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, a non-profit dedicated to preserving and memorializing LGBTQ history throughout the city, with an ever-expanding interactive map of over 450 notable places.

The Duchess was popular with lesbian activists, Davis said. Among its patrons were lesbian cartoonist and writer Alison Bechdel, who recalled in 2016, “You’d step past the bouncer at the Duchess, and you were home free …. it afforded me the space to just be, with my guard down, and that was salvational.”

Exterior of Two Boots Pizza
Andrew Dolkart, a director at the LGBT Historic Sites Project, co-led a lesbian herstory walking tour in the West Village on Sunday, October 15.
DASHIELL ALLEN

The Duchess, which had its liquor license revoked for refusing to serve men, was one of more than a dozen hidden-in-plain-site historic gems on the LGBT Historic Sites Project’s walking tour, the “Lesbian Herstory of the West Village,” on Sunday, Oct. 15. The tour took place during LGBTQ history month, which was founded in 1994 by Rodney Wilson, a gay Missouri high school teacher.

“It’s a nice time to bring people’s awareness to our project, as with Pride Month,” Davis said.

The tour started at the northwest corner of Washington Square Park, across the street from Eleanor Roosevelt’s 15th-floor residence in the 1940s. It was in that apartment that the former first lady invited many lesbian couples into her social circle and started her affair with the journalist Lorena Hickok, said Andrew Dolkart, a historian and project director with the LGBT Historic Sites Project.

From the park, the tour visited the former home of Lorraine Hansberry on Waverly Place. The playwright, most famous for her work “A Raisin In The Sun,” was a closeted lesbian, Davis said, and died at 34 of pancreatic cancer.

Amanda Davis with image of Lorraine Hansberry
Amanda Davis holds up a photo of Lorraine Hansberry in front of her residence.
DASHIELL ALLEN

“Who’s to say if she would have been more comfortable over the years to come out,” Davis said. “But we do have letters from her,” and know she anonymously wrote “lesbian-themed short stories that appeared in popular gay and lesbian magazines of the time.”

The tour also stopped by 135 and 133 West Fourth Street, where, starting in 1972, under out gay minister Paul Ables, the former Washington Square United Methodist Church and Parish House provided a meeting place for the Salsa Soul Sisters, the “oldest Black lesbian organization in America,” according to the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. The organization still exists today under the name African Ancestral Lesbians United for Societal Change.

Archival Salsa Soul Sisters image
Archival photo from NYC LGBT Historic Sites of a pamphlet for Salsa Soul Sisters
DASHIELL ALLEN

Back on the unsuspecting corner of Seventh Avenue South and Barrow Street is the former home of Labrys, New York City’s first feminist bookstore, opened by lesbian activists Marizel Rios and Jane Lurie in 1972. That’s where the phrase “The Future is Female” was coined.

“We had someone reach out to us about a year or two ago and she described Seventh Aavenue South as the lesbian super highway, because there were so many lesbian spaces,” Davis said. A few blocks down was also the Women’s Coffeehouse, from 1974 to 1978.

The LGBT Historic Sites Project has collected documents including pamphlets and flyers from many of the organizations spotlighted on the tour.

“There’s so much rich ephemeral stuff,” Dolkart said. “So think really carefully when you’re throwing things out or when you’re looking through your grandparent’s files and what they have that looks like it’s trash but is really, really valuable.” He said people can contribute documents they think might have historic value to places like the New York Public Library and New-York Historical Society.

The herstory walking tour concluded outside the now-open bar Henrietta Hudson — which describes itself as “a queer human bar built by dykes” — on Hudson Street. The space was formerly occupied, however, from 1983 to 1990, by Cubby Hole — not to be confused with the current-day Cubbyhole, another lesbian bar on West 12th Street.

Henrietta Hudson
Henrietta Hudson, a lesbian bar in the West Village. The same address used to be home to the bar Cubby Hole.
DASHIELL ALLEN

At the intersection of the past and present, the two bars are a testament to the LGBTQ community’s ever-growing New York City history. While the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project currently researches sites that existed pre-2000, Dolkart acknowledged that may some day change.

“History becomes faster and faster,” he said. “At some point we’re going to have to rethink that I think and look at more recent sites.”

In the past year the project added over 25 sites to their map, Davis said, with many more in the pipeline, including the homes of several children’s book authors. The project is also in the process of completing an overlay of historic LGBTQ sites in the West Village to be added to the National Registry of Historic Sites.

Read the original story at Gay City News here.

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

NYRR tour at the New York City AIDS Memorial

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.

Caffe Cino
31 Cornelia Street

Caffe Cino plaque

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.

Stonewall Inn
51-53 Christopher Street

Tour at the Stonewall Inn

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).

Read the original story at the New York Road Runners blog here.

Where have Staten Island’s LGBTQ+ bars gone? How a once-vibrant scene has shifted in the 2020s

June 22, 2023

Patrons dance
Patrons dance during a grand opening bash at Q-SINY in 2009. The Midland Beach nightclub closed one year later. (Staten Island Advance/ Bill Lyons) Staten Island Advance

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Pride 2023″ is a collection of Staten Islanders’ stories. Whether it’s about overcoming adversity, a parent’s journey in accepting their LGBTQ child, or fighting for awareness and equality, these borough residents all have Pride.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – For as long as Chris Bauer can remember, Staten Island has been home to a small share of bars that cater to a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender crowd. Clustered on the North Shore, earning their popularity in the 1980s and ‘90s, each establishment was considered a safe haven for a not-yet universally accepted LGBTQ+ portion of the borough community.

Naming watering holes like Beach Haven, Sand Castle and the Mayfair Bar & Grill, Bauer, a Stapleton resident has been a force for the borough’s LGBTQ+ community for years. He explained that bars geared toward LGBTQ+ individuals have always been “a thing” on Staten Island – even if they were hiding in plain sight. But according to the inclusivity advocate, each location just didn’t seem to have much staying power.

Disco ball
08/20/2009 – A disco ball hanging from the ceiling over the dance floor adds to the ambience at the official grand opening bash for QSINY Saturday July 18, 2009 in Midland Beach. (Staten Island Advance / Bill Lyons) Staten Island Advance

“There was nothing nefarious about them,” Bauer continued. “Just a place for gay people to gather. But like any bar, popularity comes and goes. And now – in Staten Island anyway – they are all gone. But that’s mostly because I think gay bars are just no longer the social hubs they once were.”

According to the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, several gay bars have historically existed in Staten Island, some dating back as early as the 1950s. The Mayfair was the most popular, located on Hyatt Street directly across from Borough Hall. The Beach Haven on Father Capodanno Boulevard was a gathering spot for local women’s softball teams and was considered the first official meeting place of Lambda Associates, the main LGBT group on Staten Island. Park Villa II, located in the former Liberty Theater on Beach Street, thrived during the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, the Project notes, but fizzled in popularity in the 2000s. In 2009, Q-SINY, a nightclub, opened in Midland Beach, only to close a year later.

Pride flag at Q-SINY
A pride flag hangs at the entrance of Q-SINY, a gay bar and restaurant that opened in 2009 in Midland Beach. (Staten Island Advance / Hilton Flores) SI Advance

“Gay bars – which were once social hubs — are not really as necessary as they once were,” he said. “I think part of it is because the internet killed them off and part of it is acceptance. At one point we needed a safe space, but now, for the most part, the gay culture is universally accepted. The decline of the gay bar is not necessarily a bad thing.”

Bauer notes that it’s not just establishments geared toward LGBTQ+ individuals that have waned; the entire bar culture has sputtered too.

“There used to be so many neighborhood bars, but that culture has changed,” Bauer said. “Young people – gay, straight or otherwise – don’t go out like they used to. They meet on apps and chat on social media. The good old-fashioned pick-up joint seems to be a thing of the past.”

Bauer is right. According to a report from the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Staten Island has the smallest share of nightlife venues in the city. There’s a total of 800 food service, bars and sports and recreation establishments here, the report notes, a stark contrast from the 13,000 located in Manhattan or the 5,500 and 4,800 found in Brooklyn and Queens. And not one of Staten Island’s 800 venues is LGBTQ+ focused.

Carol Bullock, executive director of the Pride Center of Staten Island, agrees with those findings.

“There are several Staten Island bars and restaurants that are LGBTQ+-friendly — places that host drag brunches and other events that welcome our community in — but the days of having a specific spot where you knew you were going to see people just like you seem to be over.”

And while Bullock feels it’s important for the LGBTQ+ community to have a place to gather, she does not believe the absence of those establishments in the borough signal Staten Island’s ignorance.

“I don’t think it has been because of backlash,” Bullock said when questioned about why LGBTQ+ bars have failed to survive on Staten Island. “Of course, there is always some negativity but I don’t see that as the root cause.”

Drag at The Cargo Cafe in St. George
The Cargo Cafe in St. George recently participated in the “Crawl for All,” an event which promoted inclusivity in the borough. (Staten Island Advance / Jason Paderon)

Michael Musto, who has owned the Cargo Café in St. George for about five years, says he tries his best to make all feel welcome in his establishment.

“Cargo has always been known as an alternative bar; no labels, anybody and everybody is welcome here,” noted Musto. “I have a pride flag in my window at all times and I have not lost customers because of it, in fact I think I’ve gained business.”

And while Musto says it’s sad to think that the era of the gay bar might be coming to a close, he also views the decline as the rainbow at the end of the storm.

“The lack of demand for these places means that the gay community is more accepted now,” he concluded. “A safe haven is no longer a necessity. And that is something to celebrate.”

Read the original story at Staten Island Advance here.

NYC Tour of West Village with NYRR & LGBT Historical Sites Project

June 1, 2023

Come with us on a walking tour of the West Village with New York Road Runners’ LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group (ERG) and NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, as we uncover the invisible history of historic places connected to New York City’s LGBTQIA+ community. 🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️

Read the original story at New York Road Runners here.

Stonewall riots history comes to life in a NYC park with help from ‘talking’ statues and Tony-winning star J. Harrison Ghee

June 21, 2023
By: Muri Assunção

LGBTQ history is coming to life with a little help from four “talking” statues and the voices of five Broadway actors.

In the recently launched “Talking Statues at Christopher Park” project, Tony-winning actor J. Harrison Ghee and theater stars Jenn Colola, Rosa Gilmore, Claybourne Elder and Conrad Ricamora lend their voices to the long-standing “Gay Liberation” statues in the West Village park, helping to illustrate the history of the 1969 Stonewall riots from a different perspective through audio clips accessed with a QR code on a mobile phone.

They tell of the origins of the country’s first national monument dedicated to LGBTQ history, as well as the violent clashes between patrons of the Stonewall Inn and New York police that marked a turning point in the fight for LGBTQ equality.

Gay Liberation Monument
The Gay Liberation Monument in Christopher Park in Manhattan, New York. (Danielle Hyams/New York Daily News)

In New York, there are more than 30 sculptures across the city that already use the “Taking Statues” technology, but the Christopher Park project is the first in the nation to directly address LGBTQ history.

The installation is the result of a collaboration between two award-winning organizations dedicated to preserving and honoring the city’s rich LGBTQ history — the hit podcast “Making Gay History” and the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

JHarrison-Ghee
J. Harrison Ghee arrives at the 76th annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 11, 2023, at the United Palace theater in New York. (Evan Agostini/Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Ghee, who made history last week as the first nonbinary actor to win a Tony Award for their portrayal of Jerry/Daphne in the musical “Some Like It Hot,” plays the role of Christopher Park itself.

The four other voices, played by openly LGBTQ actors, bring life to the models who were immortalized by George Segal’s realistic sculptures in the late 1970s.

The two women represented in the statues — Leslie Cohen and Beth Suskin — were a real-life couple, while the two male models were not romantically involved. One of the men, the late David Boyce, was a friend of the artist. The identity of the other man is still a mystery, says Ken Lustbader, co-founder of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

Talking Statues plaque
The Talking Statues plaque at Christopher Park in Manhattan. (Eric Marcus)

When commissioned, it was specified the “Gay Liberation” statues “had to be loving and caring, and show the affection that is the hallmark of gay people.” They were also to include equal representation of women and men.

However, the monument, which found its permanent home in Christopher Park in 1992, has since been criticized by some members of the LGBTQ community, who have taken issue with its lack of representation — which is something the four talking statues talk about.

Read the original story at New York Daily News here.

VIDEO: NYC Pride Grand Marshal reflects on being one of nation’s first gay rights activists

June 21, 2023
By: Chris Welch

Ken on Fox5 New York
Click image to play

NEW YORK – For so many members of the LGBTQ+ community— especially those of a certain generation— a gay bar was the only place you could go where you weren’t compelled to lie about who you were.

“They had nowhere else to meet—publicly,” said Ken Ludstbader is co-founder of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. “People could lose their jobs, people could lose their families, employment, and religious associations. So bars became really safe spaces.”

But the gay bar of the past was much different than the one we think of today, every inch covered in rainbow flags.

“In many cases, they were private clubs where there was a bouncer at the door, they were bottle clubs, you had a sign, a fictitious name in many cases,” Ludstbader said.

Lustbader says that was all because of New York’s laws. After prohibition, New York formed the State Liquor Authority, which had a regulation telling bar owners they could lose their license if they served “disorderly people.”

Homosexuals at the time were considered disorderly people. So to find a place to drink you’d have to either rely on word of mouth or know how to find an underground guidebook listing places considered safe— places like Julius’ Bar in Greenwich Village.

In 1966, Julius’ was being closely monitored by state liquor authorities for prior infractions.

That’s what brings us to one of the grand marshals of NYC Pride 2023. Randy Wicker was among a group of gay men who knew the bar was being watched with a careful eye by the state, and they thought there was a good chance they’d be denied a drink. So they brought a photographer to capture the scene.

And that’s exactly what happened. That photo is now framed on Julius’ wall behind the bar.

“We were saying, ‘We are homosexuals, and we want to order a cocktail,’” Wicker, now 85 years old, recalls.

They were denied. That incident became known as the Sip-In.

“That would be the first case of discrimination against homosexuals actually actively documented,” Lustbader said.

And it all happened three years prior to the Stonewall Riots, widely seen as the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement.

Last year, Julius’ was granted landmark status by the city.

“Let this designation serve as an important reminder to everyone that LGBTQ+ history is New York City history,” Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement.

“Like Julius’, the City of New York will always serve as a safe haven for LGBTQ+ people to be safe and feel safe.”

Read the original story at Fox5 New York here.

Check out this Pride pop-up museum at JFK Terminal 4

June 19, 2023
By: Ethan Marshall

terminal 4 pop-up at JFK
JFKIAT has partnered with the LGBT Network and NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project to create a Pride Pop-up Museum at Terminal 4 of JFK International Airport. Photo courtesy of JFKIAT

JFKIAT has partnered with the LGBT Network and NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project to create a Pride Pop-up Museum at Terminal 4 of JFK International Airport.

The exhibit marks the latest in JFKIAT’s T4 Arts and Culture program, an initiative presenting a curated, ongoing series of installations, exhibits and performances across Terminal 4 throughout the year representing the full New York City experience, from local art to food, culture and beyond.

JFKIAT pop-up
Photo courtesy of JFKIAT

This pop-up museum highlights a range of artwork and historical pride information. Travelers who stop by will also have numerous photo opportunities.

One of the main purposes of the museum is to teach those who view it about bout the LGBT Network, NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, Queens Pride Parade, New York City’s first-ever Pride March and diversity. The installation can be found at Concourse B near Gate B25.

JFKIAT pop-up info board
Photo courtesy of JFKIAT

JFKIAT Senior Manager of Customer Experience Julia Moris said the pop-up exhibit, which was installed on June 1, was developed as a way of celebrate diversity and equality, as well as informing travelers about the history of Pride Month. Additionally, this pop-up offers resources to those who may be in need of them.

“We are honored to have had the opportunity to partner with the LGBT Network and NYC LGBT Historic Sites to present the Pride Pop-Up Museum in JFK’s Terminal 4, in collaboration with Richard Shpuntoff, who photographed the first-ever Queens Pride Parade,” Moris said. “As a Queens-based company that is dedicated to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, it is important that we foster a welcoming, vibrant environment within our terminal that represents and celebrates the diverse communities around us. The Pride Pop-Up is a wonderful way to commemorate Pride Month at T4 and we are pleased to see our community enjoying this experience.”

JFKIAT is the operator of Terminal 4 of JFK International Airport in Jamaica.

Read the original story at QNS here.

‘Places Of Pride’ Historic LGBTQ Sites Highlighted On LinkNYC Kiosks

June 23, 2023
By: Peter Senzamici

A partnership with the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project helped create the city’s first map of LGBTQ historic sites.

LInkNYC kiosks at 33rd Street
The kiosks will highlight LGBTQ sites all over the city, and will be shown on over 3,600 LinkNYC screens across town. (LinkNYC)

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — During the last weekend of Pride Month, all New Yorkers can learn a bit more about the LGBTQ history in their own neighborhoods just by taking a walk around.

This weekend and throughout the entire month of June, LinkNYC partnered with the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, a scholarly initiative and educational resource that has contributed to the creation of the city’s first map of LGBTQ historic sites.

“Our mission at LinkNYC is to help New Yorkers connect with each other, and our relationships with community organizations help us foster this connection through technology, education, and the promotion of New York City values like equity and diversity,” said Nicole Robinson-Etienne, LinkNYC’s director of external affairs.

The fact is, LGBTQ history is all around us.

“Sites of Pride” will highlight local historical sites — from the 17th Century to the millennium — all over the city on over 3,600 LinkNYC screens in the Big Apple.

Kiosk with Andy Warhol
A LinkNYC screen revealing the Upper East Side home of Andy Warhol. The artist also lived on East 66th Street later in his life. (LinkNYC)

They also identify vital gathering spaces, including bars, clubs, and community centers, which, until recently, were often the only places where LGBTQ individuals could truly be themselves, given the limitations in their personal and professional lives.

For example: many people know that Andy Warhol lived on the Upper East Side, but did you know that the hugely influential Gay Activists Alliance was founded in 1969 inside Jim Owles’ East 61st Street apartment?

kiosk screen
A screen showing LGBTQ history in Hamilton Heights. (LinkNYC)

LinkNYC also partnered with The Gatekeepers Collective for Pride Month, a self-reclamation center where participants commit to unlearning internalized racial and sexual oppression, integrating their multiple identities, aligning with their leadership potential, and becoming proactive change agents in their communities.

“LGBTQ visibility is powerful tool, and any chance to partner with allies can educate the public and lead to larger conversations about equality and acceptance,” said Ken Lustbader from the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. “There are important historical sites all around our city, and we are proud to partner with LinkNYC to bring these valuable sites to New Yorkers this Pride Month.”

Other examples of sites on the interactive map include:

  • Pyramid Cocktail Lounge, 101 Avenue A
  • Frank O’Hara’s Residence, 441 East 9th Street
  • Ernestine Eckstein’s and Allen Ginsberg’s Residence, 437 East 12th Street
  • Stewart’s Cafeteria, 116 Seventh Ave South
  • Mattachine Society Office, 59 Christopher Street
  • Stonewall National Monument at Christopher Park
  • Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, 15 Christopher Street
  • Circle Repertory Company Theater, 99 Seventh Ave South

Read the original story at Patch here.

Proposal to restore Prospect Park’s Vale faces criticism from LGBTQ+ advocates

March 1, 2023
By: Aaron Ginsburg

Rendering of the proposed northeast pavilion.
Rendering of the proposed northeast pavilion. All renderings courtesy of the Prospect Park Alliance

The city’s Parks Department and the Prospect Park Alliance this week unveiled plans for the restoration of the Vale of Cashmere. The proposal, presented during a Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing on Tuesday, includes a new pollinator garden, natural exploration play areas, a planted arbor, and a wooden pavilion with a green roof and bathrooms. Several LPC commissioners, preservationists, and LGBTQ+ advocates opposed the proposal for the Upper Vale, with most taking issue with the plan’s erasure of the site as a significant meeting spot for the city’s queer community as well as the disregard for the original vision of the Vale.

The Vale of Cashmere, a scenic, 26-acre portion in Prospect Park’s northeast corner, was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who wanted to connect New Yorkers to nature with pools and gardens. Since it first opened, the area’s landscape has undergone a number of changes, and most recently, has fallen into a state of disrepair.

In December 2021, former Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the allocation of $40 million to restore the Vale to its former glory. The funding, the largest in the history of the Prospect Park Alliance, is set aside for the restoration of the Vale’s former Rose Garden and Children’s Pool.

Rendering of the entrance to the proposed pollinator meadow
Rendering of the entrance to the proposed pollinator meadow

The Vale of Cashmere, a scenic, 26-acre portion in Prospect Park’s northeast corner, was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who wanted to connect New Yorkers to nature with pools and gardens. Since it first opened, the area’s landscape has undergone a number of changes, and most recently, has fallen into a state of disrepair.

In December 2021, former Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the allocation of $40 million to restore the Vale to its former glory. The funding, the largest in the history of the Prospect Park Alliance, is set aside for the restoration of the Vale’s former Rose Garden and Children’s Pool.

During Tuesday’s LPC hearing, a number of preservationists and LPC commissioners criticized the proposal for the Upper Vale and northeast pavilion.

“The design of the new building is very intrusive, and it does seem to become a new, but not appropriate, focal point,” Diana Chapin, LPC Commissioner, said. “The canopy is both heavy and angular and does not fit into the landscape. I don’t know if it has to be in a new location, but the building itself and canopy should have a more picturesque and naturalistic character which is typical of Olmsted and Vaux’s designs for the park.”

The Vale of Cashmere has been a meeting and socializing spot for the LGBTQ community for more than 40 years, according to Amanda Davis, project manager of the NYC LGBT Historic Site Project.

“In the 1970s, if not earlier, the Vale of Cashmere became an important cruising, recreational, and social gathering space for the LGBTQ community, particularly for the Black queer community,” Amanda Davis, project manager of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, testified on Tuesday.

“It’s imperative that the Prospect Park Alliance conduct immediate outreach with these communities and that the process be far more transparent and inclusive, so that this socially significant LGBTQ landscape is preserved and interpreted, rather than erased from the history of Prospect Park.”

Preservationist Theodore Grunewald added: “Today’s applicant is seeking a radical regrading and reconstruction, sweeping away 125 years of landscape history and knowledge into the trash, under the rationalization that the Vale is underutilized’ and are tactically using the combination of ‘stranger danger’ and ‘gay panic’ to repeat the same mistakes of 125 years ago by reimagining this natural, geological hollow, a secluded, quiet and poetic corner unlike any in New York into a busy, activated, kid-safe hub to chase away ‘undesirables and blight.’”

Rendering of the proposed planted arbor
Rendering of the proposed planted arbor

The restoration includes the construction of a planted arbor made of steel and wood along the path leading through the new pollinator meadow. The meadow, which would replace the preexisting south concrete fountain, would include a diverse variety of plantings, including trees, shrubs, and flowers.

The arbor would provide a shady rest area and include a leaning rail to take in views of the meadow stretching out below. The new arbor would be created on a preexisting pathway, and it would connect to another preexisting nature and timber trail leading to the Lower Vale.

The surrounding area would also receive enhancements, including new mesh fencing, repaved asphalt paths, granite walls, trees, and benches.

 

Renderings of the proposed natural exploration area
Renderings of the proposed natural exploration area

After following the path through the arbor, park visitors would reach the proposed natural exploration area. The Upper Vale’s middle concrete fountain would be replaced with an expansive area for use by kids and adults alike. The plan also calls for an obstacle course made of repurposed fallen tree logs and stumps.

Rendering of the proposed open lawn
Rendering of the proposed open lawn

A new open lawn would replace the Vale’s north concrete fountain. The expansive open space would provide a place to sit in the sun and for recreational use. The new covered pavilion would sit on a path circling the open lawn.

Designs for the pavilion include a green rooftop with plantings, public restrooms, adjacent granite pavers and seating walls, and asphalt pathways. The new building would be constructed using wood for its canopy underside, window trim, and building trim, while granite would be used for the building’s skirt and cladding.

Rendering of the approach to the proposed northeast pavilion from Grand Army Plaza
Rendering of the approach to the proposed northeast pavilion from Grand Army Plaza

While nine commissioners voted in favor of the plan, the votes are only advisory as the LPC cannot approve or reject plans for scenic landmarks. The city’s Public Design Commission reviews the proposal next, according to The Architect’s Newspaper, and will consider input from the LPC when making its final decision.

Read the original story at 6sqft here.

A proposed Prospect Park development could eliminate important LGBT historic site, advocates say

February 28, 2023
By: Audrey Wachs

(Prospect Park Alliance/LPC)
(Prospect Park Alliance/LPC)

Today the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) discussed a plan to redevelop a secluded section of Prospect Park that’s also a well-known cruising spot for Brooklyn’s LGBT community.

The Prospect Park Alliance wants to build a playground and outbuilding in the Vale of Cashmere, a park-within-a-park about a ten-minute walk south of the park’s main entrance at Grand Army Plaza.

Prospect Park’s original designers envisioned the Vale of Cashmere as a naturalistic park with a pool, gardens with rare plants, and a children’s play area. Since then, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s landscape has undergone a few major changes. When McKim, Mead & White redesigned it in the early 1900s, it replaced the pool with a fountain ringed by a granite balustrade and brick walkway. The WPA worked on the site in the 1930s, and 30 years after that, landscape architect Clara Coffey redid the site with a focus on the upper portion of the Vale.

lower Vale in 2019
The Lower Vale in 2019. (Rhododendrites/Wikimedia Commons)

Today, the Vale of Cashmere looks tired and worn out—or charmingly decayed, depending on one’s point of view.

lower Vale existing conditions
Lower Vale existing conditions (Prospect Park Alliance/LPC)

In the Lower Vale, the granite pond edges are chipped and uneven. The remaining granite piers for the now-gone balustrade are cracked. In the spring and summer, the pond looks more like a lawn than a body of water thanks to an overgrowth of plants and low water levels.

upper Vale current conditions
Upper Vale current conditions (Prospect Park Alliance/LPC)

In the Upper Vale, three empty concrete fountains from the 1960s renovation are ringed by grass.

Nevertheless, the Vale of Cashmere is a popular spot for birders, picnickers, runners, and performances. It’s also a well-known cruising spot, particularly for Black queer people.

The Prospect Park Alliance, a nonprofit that stewards the park, proposed a Lower Vale renovation that combines elements of the McKim, Mead & White plans as well as the original Olmstead and Vaux design. Along with area politicians and local organizations, representatives from the preservation groups the Victorian Society New York and the Historic Districts Council (HDC) largely supported the Alliance’s proposal for the Lower Vale.

In response, the LPC’s ten commissioners found the proposal appropriate for the site.

The plan for the Upper Vale was more controversial. The Alliance wants to convert the concrete fountain area into a woodsy children’s play area dotted with boulders and logs, add an arbor along a walkway, and build a covered pavilion with bathrooms and storage facilities over a meadow, among other changes.

A rendering of the proposed arbor.
A rendering of the proposed arbor. (Prospect Park Alliance/LPC)

“We’ve tried to make the site a lot more accessible with this design,” said Svetlana Ragulina, senior landscape architect at the Prospect Park Alliance. “We’ve removed a lot of the steps, so now you can enter the site from multiple locations without steps as obstacles and [walk on] a singular asphalt path.”

Historic preservationists and LPC commissioners almost unanimously hated the design and placement of the pavilion.

“Olmstead would never put a building for these utilitarian purposes at the most visible point of the landscape of this type,” said the Victorian Society New York’s John Graham. “It would be off to the side come on obliquely and almost accidentally a feature in and of the landscape, not a focal point dominating it.”

Echoing Graham, Lucy Levine of HDC noted that the proposal makes the building the center of what is supposed to be an open space.

the proposed children’s play area in the Upper Vale.
The proposed children’s play area in the Upper Vale. (Prospect Park Alliance/LPC)

“[Instead] of treating this part of Prospect Park as an important, beloved landmark, the applicants have approached the veil as if it were a clean slate primed for a new design,” she said. Levine added that the existing arrangement of plantings and water features should remain and be incorporated into the proposed children’s play area.

Other commenters highlighted how the proposed development may threaten the Vale of Cashmere’s role in the queer life of New York City.

“In the 1970s if not earlier, the Vale of Cashmere became an important cruising recreational and social gathering space for the LGBTQ community, particularly for the Black queer community,” said Amanda Davis of NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. “It is imperative that the Prospect Park Alliance conduct immediate outreach with [communities], so a socially significant LGBTQ landscape is preserved and interpreted, rather than erased from history.” Photographer Thomas Roma produced a book on the Vale of Cashmere’s cruising scene for those interested in its history.

“Today’s applicant is sweeping away 125 years of landscape history and knowledge into the trash under the rationalization that the Veil is underutilized,” preservation activist Theodore Grunewald added. “They are tactically using a combination of stranger danger and gay panic to [reimagine] this natural geological hollow, a secluded quiet and poetic corner—unlike anything in New York—into a busy, activated, kid-safe hub to chase away ‘undesirables’ and ‘blight.’”

In contrast to the objections voiced at today’s hearing, community organizations and local electeds largely supported the Prospect Park Alliance’s plans. The LPC followed suit, with nine commissioners voting in favor of the Upper Vale plan.

While the LPC can approve or reject plans for individual buildings or developments in historic districts, the agency doesn’t have authority in so-called scenic landmarks such as Prospect Park. That task falls to the city’s Public Design Commission (PDC), which has binding jurisdiction and will review the Upper and Lower Vale proposals at a later date. The LPC commissioners’ votes today were only advisory, though the eventual report on the Prospect Park Alliance plans can be used by the PDC and others as it makes its decision.

Read the original story at Architect’s Newspaper here.

Julius’ Bar designated as NYC landmark in unanimous vote

December 6, 2022
By: Matt Tracy

Julius sign unveiled
Andrew Berman, Randy Wicker, Ken Lustbader, and Brad Hoylman unveil a plaque at Julius’ earlier this year on the 56th anniversary of the sip-in.
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The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission has unanimously designated Julius’ Bar — the oldest gay bar in the city and site of the 1966 “sip-in” demonstration — as an official landmark.

The 11-0 vote, held during a virtual hearing on December 6, was largely symbolic because the bar was already previously protected by a broader landmark designation in the Greenwich Village Historic District, which is made up of a collection of more than 2,000 buildings across 100 blocks in Manhattan. Still, it was hailed as a triumph following a decade-long push to protect the building. Groups such as Village Preservation and the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project were instrumental in the campaign to designate the bar, which is located at 159 West 10th Street.

During the hearing, the Landmark Preservation Commission’s researchers and commissioners discussed the significance of the location. Michael Caratzas, an architectural historian, retold the story of the 1966 “sip-in” that laid the foundation for the eradication of laws restricting bars from serving alcohol to LGBTQ people.

The pivotal moment in queer history occurred on April 21, 1966 when four gay men with the LGBTQ rights organization known as the Mattachine Society — Dick Leitsch, Randy Wicker, Craig Rodwell, and John Timmons — went from bar to bar stating that they were homosexuals and wanted to be served drinks. Expecting to be rejected, some bars were closed and others were actually willing to serve them drinks. Finally, when the men arrived at Julius’ Bar and asked to be served, a Village Voice photographer took what wound up being an iconic picture of a bartender covering a glass and denying them service. Julius’ Bar may have felt additional pressure to conform to the law because authorities had recently raided the establishment. The bar was not specifically known as a gay bar at the time, but gay patrons frequented the bar.

inside of Julius' Bar in Greenwich Village
Julius’ on the 55th anniversary of the “sip-in in 2021.
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The demonstration ultimately drew the attention necessary to prompt changes to the state’s liquor law that had banned bartenders from serving queer people.

“As the site of the sip-in, the building shines a light on the activism leading up to the Stonewall Rebellion and remains a place of active LGBTQ history and commemoration,” Caratzas said. “The research staff recommends that the commission vote to designate the Julius’ Bar building as a New York City landmark.”

The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s Bronx representative, Commissioner Michael Goldblum, made it a point to emphasize the barren exterior of the building that houses Julius’ Bar.

“What’s interesting to me about this is that the building is an ugly building in its current form,” Goldblum said. “It does not resemble the historic model that is usually followed by the commission. It holds on to a piece of New York that is disappearing… It’s really about the history and it’s being different, being weird… and I think that’s a beautiful thing.”

Notably, the 1966 “sip-in” occurred at a time when public LGBTQ acceptance was scarce, making the demonstration riskier for the participants.

“[Landmarking] the bar is very important because it marked one of the few sites that really predate even Stonewall in the beginning of the movement,” Wicker told Gay City News in a phone interview on September 13.

Several minutes into the December 6 hearing, the commission swiftly voted to finalize the landmark designation and moved on to the next item on the agenda.

“The Commission’s designation of the Julius’ Bar Building today recognizes and protects the site of the 1966 “Sip-In,” an important early protest against the persecution of LGBTQ+ people that drew vital attention to unjust laws and practices and paved the way for future milestones in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights,” Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Sarah Carroll said in a written statement after the vote.

In an email celebrating the designation, Village Preservation noted that it was 10 years ago to the week when the organization first filed a request with the state to make Julius’ Bar a candidate for the state and national registers of Historic Places. The following year, Village Preservation recommended that the city designate Julius’ Bar, the Stonewall Inn, the LGBT Community Center, and the former site of the Gay Activist Alliance as New York City landmarks. All of those sites have been landmarked.

The designation drew applause from out gay Councilmember Erik Bottcher, who represents the District 3 neighborhoods of Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, Greenwich Village, West SoHo, Hudson Square, Times Square, Garment District, Flatiron, and Upper West Side.

“As a gay man who enjoys countless freedoms that were unimaginable in their time, I owe enormous debt to the activists who made Julius’ Bar the site of their protest,” out gay Councilmember Erik Bottcher, who represents the neighborhood, said in a written statement. “Landmarks should tell the history of all New Yorkers, including those from marginalized communities.”

The Landmarks Preservation Commission praised the work of the LGBT Historic Sites Project, which has documented numerous locations across the five boroughs that have carved out a place in LGBTQ history.

“The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is thrilled that the Landmarks Preservation Commission has designated the Julius’ Bar Building as an official landmark,” Andrew Dolkart, co-director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, said in a written statement. “One of the first initiatives that the Sites Project undertook after its founding was the completion of the nomination that succeeded in getting Julius’ listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its significance as the site of the so-called “sip-in,” at which three courageous gay men sought to challenge the New York State rule that a bar could not serve a known homosexual.”

In a joint statement issued on November 10, two out state lawmakers — Assemblymember Deborah Glick and State Senator Brad Hoylman — threw their support behind the campaign to landmark the bar.

“[The ‘sip-in’] was an important early step that would pave the way for the LGBT community to raise awareness of the systemic injustices they endured and would eventually culminate with the Stonewall Uprising in June of 1969,” Glick and Hoylman said. “It has long been a critical ‘must-see’ destination for LGBT visitors from across the country and even the world.”

Read the original story at Gay City News here.

Walkers in the City

November 27, 2022
By: Robert Sullivan

The Hotel Theresa
The Hotel Theresa features in a walk around Harlem recounted in “The Intimate City. ”Credit … DeSean McClinton–Holland for The New York Times

At the outset of the Covid-19 lockdown, Michael Kimmelman, the New York Times architecture critic, invited various architects, urban planners, writers and other experts to suggest walking tours of New York City, hoping that the itineraries would offer “examples of how the city remains beautiful, inspiring, uplifting.” Within days, the first account of what would ultimately be 17 walks was published, a conversation between a critic and a thinker, set within a particular area of the city. Now those walks, plus three more, have been assembled into a collection, “The Intimate City,” each chapter a geographic memoir: streetscape-jogged annotations on history, infrastructure, planning and combinations thereof, complemented by photos, many from the original series. “I was on the lookout,” Kimmelman says in his introduction, “for stories, both intimate and about the city, that I thought seasoned, savvy New Yorkers might find surprising — tidbits of history, law, technology or gossip I hadn’t heard myself, or that revealed something about the people who were telling the stories.”

“The Intimate City” is a joyful miscellany of people seeing things in the urban landscape, the streets alive with remembrances and ideas even when those streets are relatively empty of people. Thomas J. Campanella, a professor of city planning at Cornell, points out the spot in Brooklyn Heights where W.H. Auden, Benjamin Britten, Carson McCullers and Gypsy Rose Lee lived in the 1940s, before the house was demolished to make way for the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Guy Nordenson, the renowned structural engineer, notes the enormous pendulum dampers inside 432 Park Avenue, an 85-story pencil tower: The pendulums soften the force of the wind that causes the stacked luxury condos to sway. The writer Daniel Okrent reminds us that before “Saturday Night Live” broadcast from Rockefeller Center, the developers piped in laughing gas to a floor of one building in the complex, hoping to lure dentists.

In many of Kimmelman’s conversations, architecture refers less to the design of buildings than to how built spaces are used. When David Adjaye, the Harlem-based architect who designed the Studio Museum, passes the front of the Hotel Theresa, he pictures the guests interacting outside: Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president, chatting with Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. “It was another Speakers’ Corner,” Adjaye says. Kate Orff, whose landscape architecture firm, SCAPE, designed a wave-reducing oyster reef now being implemented off Staten Island, as well as green space for Amazon’s new Virginia headquarters, toured her Queens neighborhood with Kimmelman, saying, “For me, Forest Hills doesn’t feel like a housing development as much as it feels like a landscape with housing in it.”

The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village
The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, the site of the 1969 uprising considered a key event in the modern gay rights movement. Credit … Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Kimmelman’s own recollections of growing up in Greenwich Village dovetail with the historical insights of Andrew Dolkart, an architectural historian and the co-founder of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, which aims to increase public awareness of local sites important to L.G.B.T.Q. history. When activists applied to have the Stonewall Inn listed on the National Register, Dolkart reports, they sought the designation for adjoining streets — which also figured in the 1969 uprising for L.G.B.T.Q. rights — at the same time, and were advised to follow guidelines for registering Civil War battlefields.

Though “The Intimate City” visits four of the five boroughs (it skips Staten Island), it is centered on Manhattan. It refers to Native Americans only as the earliest residents of Manhattan, despite the fact that Native American construction workers helped build both World Trade Centers and vast swaths of the modern skyline. A walk through the Bronx that was not featured in The Times is led by Monxo López, the co-founder of the Mott Haven-Port Morris Community Land Stewards, a community land trust. Amid all the lockdown-era enthusiasm about New York’s resilience — “I suspected, no matter what misery was coming, that the city would endure and even prosper,” Kimmelman recalls — López’s view of his community’s future is practical. His organization seeks to remove lots from the speculative real estate market, so that the neighborhood’s residents can retain a stake in its development. “The Bronx is not about consumption,” says López. “It’s about community.”

Covid’s devastating impact in the area of López’s tour suggests that New York City didn’t just come back; it never stopped being what it was, and, in the process, the most vulnerable died or became more vulnerable. The pandemic — with its quickly constructed hospitals, neighborhood-level mutual aid, and relief (if temporary) for rising rents — showed us another way to build the city in the future.

Robert Sullivan is a contributing editor at A Public Space, and has just completed a book on 19th-century Western survey photography.

Read the original story at New York Times here.

Brooklyn Gets First LGBTQ+ Landmark With Designation of Lesbian Herstory Archives

November 22, 2022
By: Anna Bradley-Smith

The Lesbian Herstory Archives building at 484 14th Street in Park Slop
The Lesbian Herstory Archives building at 484 14th Street in Park Slope. Photo by Susan De Vries

Commissioners on the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission unanimously voted to landmark the Park Slope headquarters of the Lesbian Herstory Archives in a public meeting today.

The vote followed an October 25 public hearing where six people testified in support of landmarking the building at 484 14th Street due to its cultural significance. “Most lesbians don’t inherit queer culture from our parents, the Lesbian Herstory archives is our birthright and it’s the place where we can go to learn our own history,” LHA coordinating committee member Colette Denali Montoya-Sloan told commissioners at the hearing.

She added that the building, owned outright by the nonprofit, is “intricately linked to lesbian life in New York City as the archival home of anyone who identifies as a former or current lesbian, or in any way with the word,” and said all are welcome to visit and research, not just lesbians. LPC also received 34 letters in support of designation.

LPC presentation slides
Slides from the presentation at the LPC meeting
LPC presentation slides
Slides from the presentation at the LPC meeting

LPC Deputy Director of Research Margaret Herman told commissioners the house is culturally significant as the home of the archives since 1991, “the nation’s oldest and largest collection of lesbian related historical material,” which was founded out of an Upper West Side apartment in 1974 by lesbian activists.

For the past 30 years, the 1908 Axel Hedman-designed Park Slope house has been “a permanent headquarters that can serve as a direct response to the pervasive homophobia, sexism and lack of lesbian space that community had experienced throughout history,” Herman said.

The house already sits within Park Slope’s historic district, but given the district’s 1973 designation predated the arrival of the organization there’s no mention of the building’s LGBTQ+ significance in city records. Designating it an individual landmark would allow for that recognition.

LPC Deputy Director of Research Margaret Herman told commissioners the house is culturally significant as the home of the archives since 1991, “the nation’s oldest and largest collection of lesbian related historical material,” which was founded out of an Upper West Side apartment in 1974 by lesbian activists.

For the past 30 years, the 1908 Axel Hedman-designed Park Slope house has been “a permanent headquarters that can serve as a direct response to the pervasive homophobia, sexism and lack of lesbian space that community had experienced throughout history,” Herman said.

The house already sits within Park Slope’s historic district, but given the district’s 1973 designation predated the arrival of the organization there’s no mention of the building’s LGBTQ+ significance in city records. Designating it an individual landmark would allow for that recognition.

LPC presentation slides
Slides from the presentation at the LPC meeting
Lesbian Herstory Archives
Photo by Susan De Vries

LPC Chair Sarah Carroll said the designation would reflect an important layer of history, “but have a more subtle regulatory impact” given it is in the same architectural style as the rest of the historic district and already abides by those rules. She said Lesbian Herstory Archives could install a plaque if they wished, something she signaled support for.

“I’m really thrilled that we are voting on this building today. The Lesbian Herstory Archives is a nationally important organization and collection of LGBTQ+ historic materials and it’s really played an essential role in preserving and telling the most mostly unseen stories of a community of women, including many who have contributed to America’s cultural, political and social history,” Carroll said.

“The Archives has made this row its home for over 30 years for 30 years and it’s long association and stewardship of the building have added this layer, and so while there may not be architectural changes that speak to it, I think that our designation will really highlight and celebrate this sort of layer, very significant layer, of the building and I’m delighted that our vote and on this designation draws attention to the importance of lesbian Herstory archives to New York City’s history and the country’s history and the LGBTQ+ community.”

Commissioner Michael Goldblum said the designation was “one of a series of really important designations” Carroll had led the way on “that relate to the cultural history of New York City, and its various communities over the last couple of years.” He said he thought there were likely many other culturally significant buildings in the city that deserve this kind of “recognition and thoughtful designation.”

Commissioner Fred Bland added that LHA’s designation “is right in line with our society and its movements” and said it was critical that preservation keep up with societal movements.

“I have warned a little bit in the past that we’ve got to be careful about cultural designations because after all this is New York City, every block has some interesting thing that happened on it, you know, and we have to be careful about those cultural significant happenings, but somehow this one is so obvious it’s hard to put into words why this is so appropriate, and maybe other kinds of cultural designations might not be so obvious. This one is just so obvious.”

In a press release, project manager of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project Amanda Davis said the group was thrilled the women-owned building was now officially recognized as a New York City landmark, “further solidifying the importance of including LGBTQ history in the broader narrative of American history.”

“The designation — the first for an LGBTQ site in Brooklyn — acknowledges the pioneering lesbian women who, nearly 50 years ago, came together to create an affirming space for their community. Perhaps most significantly, these women reclaimed their past by saving and preserving lesbian-related records, photographs and ephemera for future generations of queer women,” Davis said.

Read the original story at Brownstoner here.

Landmarks Holds Public Hearing for Julius’ Bar

November 21, 2022
By: Cassidy Strong

Julius’ Bar
Julius’ Bar. Image Credit: LPC

Located at the corner of West 10th Street and Waverly Place, Julius’ holds great significance in NYC’s LGBTQ+ history and is undergoing Individual Landmark consideration. On November 15, 2022, the Landmarks Preservation Commission held a public hearing to discuss landmarking Julius’ Bar, located at 159 West 10th Street in Manhattan. The building was previously calendared for Individual Landmark consideration on September 13.

The public hearing began with a presentation from Kate Lemos McHale, Landmarks’ Director of Research. McHale described Julius’ Bar as “New York City’s most significant site of pre-Stonewall LGBTQ activism.” In 1966, three years before the Stonewall Rebellion, four activists with the Mattachine Society held a “Sip-In” at Julius’ Bar to protest the closure of restaurants and bars serving queer people. Modeling this direct action after the Civil Rights Movement, the Sip-In showcased the frustration and bold ideas of NYC’s gay community years before the Gay Liberation Movement.

McHale also shared that Julius’ Bar is located in the Greenwich Village Historic District, only a few minutes’ walk away from the Stonewall Inn. Stonewall was designated as an Individual Landmark in 2015, and by doing the same with Julius’ Bar, the building’s importance in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights would be specifically honored.

While the building dates back to 1826, Julius’ Bar opened as a speakeasy in 1930. It quickly became a hub for artists and writers, with the Village Voice launching there in 1955. As queer New Yorkers migrated towards Christopher Street in the 1950s and 60s, when post-WWII discrimination was at an all-time high, Julius’ Bar was home to both gay and straight patrons. In NYC, gay men were criminalized, while the NYS liquor authority revoked licenses for places serving gay people. By bringing a photographer to Julius’ Bar and stating they were gay, leading the bartender to refuse service, members of the Mattachine Society were able to document anti-LGBTQ discrimination in mainstream media for the first time. Today, the building has the same appearance it did during its period of significance and is widely recognized for this activism.

Following McHale’s presentation, the Landmarks Commissioners had no additional questions, so Chair Sarah Carroll opened up the hearing for public testimony. Helen Buford, owner of Julius’ Bar for the last 13 years, began the testimony period by voicing her support for the landmarking, again highlighting the Sip-In event, and thanking regular customers for their support.

Buford was followed by Randy Wicker, a Mattachine Society member and witness to the Sip-In. Wicker explained that Julius’ Bar was a neighborhood staple where many customers happened to be gay. In order to avoid plainclothes police, the bar adhered to strict rules, like only admitting men on weekends if they had women as dates. Wicker emphasized that because Julius’ Bar agreed to be targeted by the Mattachine Society, gay people were given the “constitutional right to public assembly and accommodation.”

Andrew Dolkart, a historic preservation professor, spoke next on behalf of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. Dolkart shared that the Project “strongly supports” landmarking Julius’ Bar, which is often the last stop on their walking tours of queer historic sites, and that their research led to Julius’ being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.

Following Dolkart’s testimony, NYS Assemblymember Deborah Glick also spoke in favor on behalf of herself and NYS Senator Brad Hoylman. Both Dolkart and Glick praised Helen Buford’s ownership and emphasized the Sip-In’s historical importance, with Assemblymember Glick stating: “The significance of the event warrants the acknowledgment and designation of Julius’ as a landmark, and would demonstrate the City’s commitment to ensuring that the history of the fight for LGBTQ rights is commemorated.” Glick explained that both her and Hoylman are members of the LGBTQ+ community, and thanked Landmarks for their efforts to designate queer sites.

Assemblymember Glick was followed by Andrew Berman, executive director of Village Preservation. Berman explained that nine years ago, Village Preservation called for Julius’ Bar to be designated as an Individual Landmark alongside three other sites. While the other buildings have since been landmarked, Village Preservation has continued to urge Landmarks to designate Julius’ Bar. Next, Brad Vogel spoke on behalf of the Walt Whitman Initiative, stating that Julius’ continues to be a safe haven for the LGBTQ+ community. The Initiative strongly supports this designation, Vogel explained, because other pre-Stonewall historic sites are similarly worthy of consideration, namely Whitman’s Leaves of Grass House.

Others who spoke in support included Lucie Levine of the Historic Districts Council, curator and Greenwich Village native Steve Jaffe, and Brendan Byrnes, who married his husband at Julius’ Bar in 2014. City Councilmember Erik Bottcher had also signed up to speak, but was unable to attend the public hearing.

Chair Carroll closed the public hearing by thanking everyone for their testimony, stating that she was “delighted to be moving forward” with Julius’ Individual Landmark designation. Carroll also shared that Landmarks will hold a final public meeting on Julius’ Bar “in the very near future, when [Landmarks] can schedule a vote.”

By: Cassidy Strong (Cassidy is a CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2024.)

LPC: Julius’ Bar Building, LP-2663. November 15, 2022.

Read the original story at CityLand here.

Landmarks Holds Public Hearing for Lesbian Herstory Archives

November 9, 2022
By: Cassidy Strong

Lesbian Herstory Archives
The Lesbian Herstory Archive, located at 484 14th Street in Park Slope. Image Credit: LPC.

On October 25, 2022, the Landmarks Preservation Commission held a public hearing to discuss landmarking the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Located at 484 14th Street within the Park Slope Historic District, the building was previously calendared for Individual Landmark consideration on June 28.

The public hearing began with a presentation from Landmarks’ Deputy Director of Research Margaret Herman, who described the Lesbian Herstory Archives as “the nation’s oldest and largest collection of lesbian-related historical material.” The 14th Street building was constructed in the Renaissance Revival style by architect Axel Hedman in 1908, and the volunteer-led Lesbian Herstory Archives have been housed there since 1991. Herman shared that the Archives paid off their mortgage in 1996, creating a permanent headquarters, and has “diligently maintained” the building ever since.

However, the Lesbian Herstory Archives moved into their current space after the creation of the Park Slope Historic District, leaving no mention of their work. Designating the building as an individual landmark, Herman explained, would emphasize the building’s LGBTQ+ significance.

Following Herman’s presentation, Landmarks turned the hearing over to public testimony. Saskia Scheff, one of the coordinators at the Lesbian Herstory Archives and a volunteer there since 1989, began by testifying in support of the landmarking. Scheff stated that the Archives are a landmark not just because of the building, but for their work as a community organization and interactive catalog of history.

Scheff was followed by Amanda Davis, Project Manager of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. Davis stated that the project “strongly supports the designation of the Lesbian Herstory Archives as a New York City Landmark,” pointing out that it would be the first LGBT site to be landmarked in Brooklyn. Davis also shared that when the project first launched its website with an initial 100 sites, the Lesbian Herstory Archives was included, and that the Archives’ resources have been “invaluable” to the project’s work. Since the Archives were created out of a lack of lesbian visibility, and Park Slope as a neighborhood is home to a large lesbian community, Davis affirmed that the project “proudly supports the proposed designation.”

Colette Montoya, who has worked with the Archives since 2011 and is currently working to digitize their collection 3000 audio cassettes, similarly emphasized the building’s importance to the greater NYC lesbian community. Montoya, an indigenous woman, also highlighted the Archives’ commitment to recording the history of the Lenape people, who originally inhabited what is now NYC.

Next, Lucie Levine spoke on behalf of the Historic Districts Council, who also “enthusiastically supports” the building’s designation as an Individual Landmark. Levine stated that cultural landmarks like the Lesbian Herstory Archives are a growing priority for the HDC, and called upon Landmarks to recognize more cultural landmarks with ties to marginalized communities. Levine was followed by Katherine Prater and Elizabeth Daly, members of the public who also spoke in support of the landmarking.

Sonia Guior, Landmarks Director of Community and Intergovernmental Affairs, ended the public testimony period by noting that 25 letters were also sent in support, 2 of which were written by community organizations.

With no additional questions from Commissioners, Chair Sarah Carroll closed the public hearing and shared her own excitement about the proposed designation. Carroll thanked the the Lesbian Herstory Archives for being “great supporters” of Landmarks, as well as the LGBT Historic Sites Project, “who has also been a great partner with us as we have started to, and have continued to work through, our priorities and thinking about equity in our designations”.

Landmarks will continue their research, incorporating testimony from the public hearing, and will hold a vote on designating the Lesbian Herstory Archives “in the very near future.”

By: Cassidy Strong (Cassidy is a CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2024.)

LPC: Lesbian Herstory Archives, LP-2662. October 25, 2022

Read the original story at CityLand here.

NYC’s Oldest Gay Bar May Soon Get Landmark Status

November 16, 2022
By: Sharon Crowley

NEW YORK – Regulars at Julius Bar in Greenwich Village are eager for the city of New York to designate the tavern as a local historical landmark.

“It’s really important to have the city recognize Julius as a city landmark,” said Ken Lustbader, the co-director of the New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project.

The Stonewall Inn was cemented as the birthplace of the gay rights movement in the U.S. because of the infamous uprising there in 1969. But what many people don’t know is that in 1966 a group of gay men staged an earlier protest trying to get served at the counter.

“At that time it was illegal to serve known homosexuals alcohol and if they did so they could lose their license, so this was the first public action to show discrimination in real time,” Lustbader said.

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, who is gay, says the project is personal.

“There were brave men who stood up to the NYPD and the mob and bar owners and made certain our rights were protected by law and that’s what happened at Julius, and we should never forget that,” Hoylman said.

Julius Bar is already listed on the National Register of Historic Places and supporters are hoping to get local status so that New York City also recognizes its place in history.

See the original article at Fox5 New York here.

NYC’s Oldest Gay Bar May Soon Get Landmark Status

November 16, 2022
By: Rana Novini

A bar since 1864, Julius’ was thrust into the forefront of the gay rights movement in 1966 — three years before the Stonewall riots — when activists staged a peaceful “sip in,” announcing they are homosexuals and asking to be served

 

Before the Stonewall Inn became known as the birthplace of the gay rights movement in the U.S., and the riots that helped bring the movement into the national spotlight, there was Julius’.

Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, at West 10th Street and Waverly Place, manager Adan Garcia said that being in the bar is like being inside a living museum. The storied history that has taken place there is on full display in photos on the walls.

Now there is an effort to preserve that history, with an official New York City Landmark designation that is one step closer to reality for the legendary establishment.

“It’s a landmark to me. I’m sure it’s a landmark to many many people who walk through those doors,” said Garcia.

Julius’ has been a bar since 1864. It was thrust into the forefront of the gay rights movement in 1966 — three years before the Stonewall riots.

Photos show three members of the Mattachine society, a gay rights organization, challenging a regulation that prohibited bars from serving LGBTQ people. The activists staged a peaceful “sip in,” announcing they are homosexuals and asking to be served.

In a photograph that gained widespread media attention, a bartender at Julius’ held his hand over their glasses and refused to serve them.

“Still to me it just boggles my mind,” Garcia said.

Andrew Dolkart, with the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, is one of the people fighting for Julius’ Bar to get a city landmark designation. He said it would formalize the bar’s significance in New York and American history.

“These young men who took part in this event, this was incredibly courageous,” said Dolkart. “We need to know where we’ve been, where we are and where we need to go.”

The city’s Landmarks and Preservation Committee held a public hearing Monday where many spoke about why the Greenwich Village mainstay should be recognized. For now, the bar waits, but Adan is already planning the celebration.

“I’ll make sure we’ll decorate everything perfectly,” he said.

There was no opposition to the proposal at the hearing. For the next step, the commission will schedule a public hearing for a vote.

See the original article at NBC News New York here.

NYC LGBTQ historic sites project receives ‘excellence’ award

November 6, 2022
By: Lou Chibbaro Jr.

NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project in Washington Blade
The Stonewall Inn during New York City Pride (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The National Trust for Historic Development has chosen the New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project as the recipient of its Trustees Award for Organization Excellence.

The LGBT Historic Sites Project is one of nine historic preservation-related organizations that were recognized with awards at a Nov. 4 virtual ceremony that was available to the public.

“The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is a nationally recognized and influential cultural heritage initiative and educational resource that identifies and documents diverse extant LGBT sites from the 17th century to 2000,” the announcement says.

“The only permanent organization of its kind in the U.S., the project staff have created an interactive website, National Register nominations, publicans and programs and school educational materials, among other resources,” the announcement continues.

‘Sitting at the intersection of historic preservation and social justice, the organization has been particularly eager to document LGBT sites associated with women and Black, Asian, Latinx, trans and gender-variant communities,” according to the announcement. “In the near future, they hope to prioritize local sites of LGBT history associated with Indigenous and Two-Spirit peoples,” it says.

In its announcement, the National Trust for Historic Preservation says its National Preservation Awards ceremony is held each year during its annual PastForward Conference, which was held virtually on Nov. 4.

“Each year at the PastForward Conference we come together to recognize those making a real difference in historic preservation,” said Paul Edmondson, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “This year’s recipients embody not just the preservation of American History, but also demonstrate how preserving historic places can play a key role in addressing critical issues of today, including climate change, equality and housing,” Edmondson said.

See the original article at the Washington Blade here.

NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project To Receive Prestigious Trustees’ Award From the National Trust for Historic Preservation

November 4, 2022
By: A.A. Cristi

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project’s work to identify and document NYC’s place-based LGBT history is being honored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation today, Friday, November 4th, at 4PM EST with their Trustees’ Award for Organizational Excellence, one of our field’s highest honors. The award will be given at the PastForward Conference, in a ceremony hosted by old house icon Bob Vila.

“Our Project makes visible historic narratives that have been actively erased or willfully ignored by the larger culture for generations. By reconnecting LGBT history to physical, extant sites, we create a visceral connection that instills pride and fosters a sense of belonging to a larger community. We know this work inspires other marginalized groups whose history is part of the full American story,” said Ken Lustbader, co-director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project group photo“This national award helps amplify the importance of documenting LGBT historic places and including these stories in the broader telling of American history. One of our Project’s most rewarding elements is connecting LGBT people around the world to their own history, much of which has long been hidden and intentionally erased. We hope this award encourages people to embrace LGBT history in their communities.” – Amanda Davis, manager of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

“Each year at the PastForward Conference we come together to recognize those making a real difference in historic preservation. This year’s recipients embody not just the preservation of American history, but also demonstrate how preserving historic places can play a key role in addressing critical issues of today, including climate change, equality, and housing.” – Paul Edmondson, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Since its founding in 2015, the Project has now identified, researched and mapped over 400 sites across New York City’s five boroughs which connect the public viscerally to the places – residences, bars and venues, public spaces, and more – where LGBT people have contributed to American culture.

About the Trust’s selection of the Project for the 2022 Trustees’ Award for Organizational Excellence: The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is a nationally-recognized and influential cultural heritage initiative and educational resource that identifies and documents diverse extant LGBT sites from the 17th century to 2000. The only permanent organization of its kind in the US, the project staff have created an interactive website, National Register nominations, publications and public programs, and school educational materials, among other resources. Sitting at the intersection of historic preservation and social justice, the organization has been particularly eager to document LGBT sites associated with women and Black, Asian, Latinx, trans, and gender-variant communities. In the near future, they hope to prioritize local sites of LGBT history associated with Indigenous and Two Spirit Peoples.

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, launched in 2015 by preservation professionals, is an award-winning cultural heritage initiative and educational resource documenting and presenting historic sites connected to the LGBT community throughout New York City. Its website, including an interactive map, features over 375 diverse places from the 17th century to 2000 that are important to LGBT history and illustrate the community’s influence on NYC and American culture.

The project researches and nominates LGBT sites to the National Register, advocates for the official recognition of LGBT historic sites, provides walking tours (also accessible through a free-app), presents lectures, engages the community through events, develops educational programs for New York City public school students, and disseminates its content through robust social media channels. Its goal is to make an invisible history visible while fostering pride and awareness.

See the original article at Broadway World here.

NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project honored with award for ‘making a once invisible history visible’

November 5, 2022
By: Muri Assunção

A New York City nonprofit that focuses on documenting sites that are connected to the city’s rich LGBTQ history and culture has been recognized for its “trailblazing approach to making a once invisible story visible.”

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project on Friday received the Trustees’ Award for Organizational Excellence from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that works in the field of historic preservation in the United States.

The award, which honors “superlative and continued achievement in historic preservation by an organization,” was presented to Ken Lustbader, the organization’s co-founder and co-director.

NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project with Randy Wicker
Unveiling of plaque at Julius’ in Manhattan’s West Village that honors the bar’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places. April 21, 2022 (NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project)

“Having the Washington-based, National Trust for Historic Preservation, recognize LGBTQ site-based history is important and helps legitimize our work,” Lustbader told the Daily News.

“The imprimatur of the Trust sends the message that LGBTQ history is part of the American experience and story,” he added. “It will help pave the way for other projects around the country.”

Their work is “especially important now with the pushback on LGBT rights throughout the country,” Lustbader said when accepting the honor.

State Senator Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat and a powerful voice for LGBTQ rights, told The News that the group’s recognition “shows that queer history is American history,” calling the honor a “triumphant moment for our communities.”

For the past seven years, the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project has been an authoritative voice in the preservation of historic sites that have been closely associated with the LGBTQ community across the five boroughs.

nyclgbtsites.org map
NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project website (NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project)

Its website includes a robust searchable and interactive map that features nearly 400 sites — including cultural institutions, queer- and trans-owned residences, businesses and bars — that paint a clear picture of the LGBTQ influence on American culture.

Launched in 2015 by Lustbader, Andrew Dolkart and Jay Shockley — three renowned experts in LGBTQ history, documentation, and historic preservation— the initiative has documented historic and cultural sites that helped to form the narrative of the LGBTQ liberation movement in New York City, from the 17th century until the year 2000, with a goal of documenting an important part of history that could be otherwise forgotten or overlooked.

At that time, there were only two sites listed in the National Register for Historic Places for their LGBTQ associations. Today, there are 27 across the U.S., 11 of which are in New York City.

See the original article at the New York Daily News here.

City takes first step toward landmarking Julius’ Bar

September 13, 2022
By: Maya Rajamani

entrance to Julius' Bar featured
Julius’ Bar in Greenwich Village | NY1/Maya Rajamani

The oldest gay bar in the five boroughs, Greenwich Village stalwart Julius’ Bar, is on track to become a New York City landmark.

Members of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously voted during a public hearing Tuesday morning to “calendar” the West 10th Street building that houses the bar.

In 1966, the bar was the site of what was called a “Sip-In,” a protest against regulations that made it illegal to serve people suspected of being gay or lesbian.

“Calendaring” a site, or scheduling a public hearing to discuss its significance, is the first official step in the process of designating a landmark, according to the LPC.

“We have staff working specifically on identifying sites that are significant to the LGBTQ community and heritage in the city,” LPC Chair Sarah Carroll said at the hearing. “And this has always been one that we have been thinking about.”

The commission will hold the public hearing “in the near future this fall,” Carroll added, without providing an exact date.

Built in the early 1800s as a trio of standalone buildings that were later combined, the Arts and Crafts style building “has housed a bar since the 1860s,” LPC Director of Research Kate Lemos McHale said at the hearing.

The present-day Julius’ Bar at 159 West 10th St., at the corner of Waverly Place, opened its doors in 1930, she said.

In the 1950s, the watering hole became a popular gathering place for gay men, “despite its management’s unwelcoming attitude toward them, mixing in among the bar’s mostly straight clientele,” she added.

By the early 1960s, the city had begun taking steps to crack down on bars and restaurants that served gay people, as the State Liquor Authority had deemed serving them illegal. A police raid stemming from that crackdown sparked the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, which served as a turning point for the city’s LGBTQ rights movement.

Three years before Stonewall, however, three members of the Mattachine Society — a gay rights organization — made history by holding a “Sip-In” at Julius’ Bar.

Julius' plaque
The plaque outside Julius’ Bar | NY1/Maya Rajamani

“With reporters and a photographer in tow, the activists announced that they were homosexuals, asked to be served, and were refused,” a plaque Village Preservation and the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project fastened to the bar’s facade earlier this year reads.

“This early gay rights action and the attendant publicity helped to raise awareness of widespread anti-LGBT discrimination and harassment,” it adds.

While the National Register of Historic Places listed Julius’ Bar in April 2016, Tuesday’s hearing marked the first time the city has formally considered landmarking it.

In a press release Tuesday morning, Village Preservation said the LPC’s vote followed a “nine-year campaign” to see the bar become a city landmark.

The LPC designated the Stonewall Inn a landmark in June 2015.

“This is a tremendously important step toward conferring much-needed recognition and protection upon this site, which played such an enormously important role in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement,” Village Preservation Executive Director Andrew Berman said in a statement.

“LGBTQ+ and civil rights history like that which is embodied in Julius’ Bar are essential elements of our collective story, and it’s critical that they not be forgotten or erased,” Berman added.

See the original article on NY1 here.

Julius’, New York City’s oldest gay bar, is one step closer to becoming a city landmark

September 13, 2022
By: Devin Gannon

Julius' on Google Streetview
Julius’ Bar. Streetview © 2021 Google

New York City’s oldest gay bar is on its way to becoming an individual landmark. The Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday voted to calendar Julius’ Bar, a Greenwich Village establishment known for its historic 1966 “Sip-In” when members of the Mattachine Society protested the state law that prohibited bars from serving “suspected gay men or lesbians.” Considered one of the city’s most significant sites related to LGBTQ+ history, Julius’ Bar played an instrumental role in advancing the rights of gay New Yorkers.

Located on the corner of West 10th Street and Waverly Place, the building that is now home to Julius’ was constructed in the early 19th century as three separate structures that were later combined into one building. The property has held a bar since the 1860s; Julius’ Bar opened in the 1930s. By the 1960s, gay men started meeting at the bar, despite “unwelcome attitudes.”

On April 21, 1966, three years before the Stonewall Riots, members of the gay rights group the Mattachine Society organized a “Sip-In,” a non-violent protest inspired by the sit-ins of the Civil Rights Movement. The purpose of the sip-in was to challenge the New York State Liquor Authority rules put into effect so bars could not serve drinks to known or suspect gay men or lesbians.

According to the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, Dick Leitsch, Craig Rodwell, and John Timmons visited several bars, announced that they were “homosexuals,” and ordered a drink. At Julius’, the group was refused. The demonstration led to a court ruling a year later that determined gay people had the right to assemble and be served alcohol, and over time, the growth of bars as social spaces for the LGBTQ+ community.

While the building that houses Julius’ Bar has seen changes over time, including its Arts and Crafts style stucco facade from the 1920s. After structural issues were discovered in the 1980s, the building was “essentially reconstructed with the same appearance,” according to the LPC, with a “restorative approach” approved by the commission. Small changes include the bar’s window openings, replacement of pattern brickwork, and the addition of a faux cornice, but it retains its integrity from the period of significance in the 1960s.

Julius plaque
Photo courtesy of the Village Preservation

Advocates have pushed for Julius’ to be recognized for its significance. Thanks to an effort led by the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, the bar was listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places in 2015 and the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.

Historic preservation group Village Preservation has pushed LPC to designate Julius’ as a city landmark for nearly a decade. In April, Village Preservation and the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project unveiled a plaque at Julius’ Bar to mark the significance of the Sip-In.

“It’s so important that we not only honor sites like these that tell the diverse stories of our city and country’s history and culture but that we take affirmative steps like landmarking to ensure they are forever preserved,” Andrew Berman, executive director of Village Preservation, said in a statement.

“LGBTQ+ and civil rights history like that which is embodied in Julius’ Bar are essential elements of our collective story, and it’s critical that they not be forgotten or erased. We’re very fortunate that Greenwich Village is so rich in these threads of our history, and we’re committed to ensuring they are recognized and preserved, for everyone’s benefit.”

Calendaring a property is the first step in the designation process, followed by a public hearing and a vote.

See the original article on 6sqft here.

City to consider landmarking Julius’ Bar

September 13, 2022
By: Matt Tracy

Julius' Bar in Gay City News
Julius’ on the 55th anniversary of the “sip-in in 2021 | DONNA ACETO

The building housing Julius’ Bar, which is known as the oldest gay bar in New York City and the site of the 1966 “sip-in” event that helped catapult the right to drink for LGBTQ people, could soon be formally recognized as a city landmark.

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted on September 13 to “calendar” — or set up for formal consideration — the bar’s building at 159 West 10th Street in Greenwich Village. The law stipulates that the LPC must hold a hearing and vote on landmarking the building within a year, according to Village Preservation, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving the architectural and cultural history of Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo.

Julius’ building holds particular significance in LGBTQ history thanks to the sip-in demonstration that took place on April 21, 1966 — three years before Stonewall — when Mattachine Society members Dick Leitsch, Craig Rodwell, John Timmons, and Randy Wicker challenged the State Liquor Authority’s policy barring bartenders from serving LGBTQ people.

The four individuals, accompanied by the press, entered multiple bars and said, “We are homosexuals. We are orderly, we intend to remain orderly, and we are asking for service.” The first bars they entered were willing to pour them drinks, so they continued on to Julius’ bar, where a bartender placed his hand over a glass to demonstrate his refusal to serve them.

Advocates have long pushed for Julius’ to get landmark designation, which prevents significant changes to the building in the future, but that campaign is largely symbolic because the building that houses Julius’ already sits within the landmarked Greenwich Village Historic District. That area encompasses a collection of more than 2,000 buildings over 100 blocks in Manhattan.

“[Landmarking] the bar is very important because it marked one of the few sites that really predate even Stonewall in the beginning of the movement,” Wicker, a longtime LGBTQ activist, told Gay City News on September 13 as he recalled his role in the sip-in protest.

Andrew Berman, Randy Wicker, Ken Lustbader, and Brad Hoylman unveil Julius' plaque
Andrew Berman, Randy Wicker, Ken Lustbader, and Brad Hoylman unveil a plaque at Julius’ earlier this year on the 56th anniversary of the sip-in | DONNA ACETO

Village Preservation’s executive director, Andrew Berman, said the organization has been a proponent of the push to landmark Julius’ building for nine years.

“This is a tremendously important step toward conferring much-needed recognition and protection upon this site, which played such an enormously important role in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement,” Berman said in a written statement. “We’re optimistic that it will soon join the ranks of other officially designated LGBTQ+ landmarks in our neighborhood which we fought for…”

Berman, Wicker, and others joined together at Julius’ in April of this year to mark the 56th anniversary of the sip-in. To this day, Wicker remembers walking from bar to bar as he and others sought to bring attention to the state’s discriminatory policy.

“Julius’ didn’t want to be a gay bar,” Wicker said. “In the afternoon, people in the neighborhood would stop in and have a beer and socialize, but because there was a large population of gay people in neighborhood, they had a large clientele. On the weekends, they kept an eye on how many males and females were in the bar because they didn’t want it to tip over into being all male.”

While other bars were willing to look the other way and serve the men regardless of the liquor law, Julius’ was on edge after one man was recently entrapped and arrested prior to the sip-in.

“[Julius’] got notice that the liquor license could be revoked if you got another incident like this, so that was the reason they really refused us,” Wicker added. “Because the police department could do this so they could start getting payoffs from Julius’. The precinct was very corrupt in that way.”

The rise of public-facing gay bars, Wicker said, helped spark further advances for LGBTQ rights and even drew the attention of political figures who started to realize the voting power of queer people in the area.

“Politicians started going to those bars seeking votes,” Wicker said.

Berman welcomed the LPC’s vote to consider the building, but he also emphasized that such designations are also needed for other places that hold significance in LGBTQ history.

“We hope the LPC will also take some not just symbolic actions to landmark LGBTQ+ historic sites currently entirely lacking in protection, which could actually be lost or compromised in some way,” he said, pointing to a list of sites rich with LGBTQ history. Those locations include spots like 55 Fifth Avenue, which was home to Columbia Photograph Recording Studios and OKeh Phonograph Recording Studios and brought in notable LGBTQ performers such as Blues singer Bessie Smith; 86 University Place, which was the site of a popular lesbian bar called “The Bag” and attracted customers such as Audre Lorde; and St. Ann’s Church at 120 East 12th Street, which hosted a funeral mass for trans performer Jackie Curtis in 1985.

The LGBTQ spots already landmarked by the city include the Stonewall Inn, which was landmarked in 2015, as well as six more sites that were designated as landmarks in 2019 — the year New York City hosted WorldPride: Caffe Cino at 31 Cornelia Street, the LGBT Community Center at 208 West 13th Street, the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse at 99 Wooster Street, James Baldwin’s residence at 137 West 71st Street, the Women’s Liberation Center at 243 West 20th Street, and Audre Lorde’s residence at 207 St. Paul’s Avenue on Staten Island.

“LGBTQ+ and civil rights history like that which is embodied in Julius’ Bar are essential elements of our collective story, and it’s critical that they not be forgotten or erased,” Berman added. “We’re very fortunate that Greenwich Village is so rich in these threads of our history, and we’re committed to ensuring they are recognized and preserved, for everyone’s benefit.”

See the original article on Gay City News here.

One of New York City’s oldest gay bars could become city landmark

September 13, 2022
By: Eyewitness News

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — The Julius Bar, one of New York City’s oldest gay bars, is one step closer to becoming a city landmark.

The preservation commission voted to calendar the historic Greenwich Village institution.

The bar on West 10th Street played a pivotal role in advancing the rights of gay New Yorkers.

On April 21, 1966, three years before the Stonewall Riots, members of the gay rights group the Mattachine Society organized a “sip-in,” a non-violent protest inspired by the sit-ins of the civil rights movement.

The purpose of the sip-in was to challenge the New York State Liquor Authority rules that were put into effect so bars could not serve drinks to known or suspected gay men or lesbians.

Historic preservation group Village Preservation has pushed the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to designate Julius’ as a city landmark for nearly a decade.

In April, Village Preservation and the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project unveiled a plaque at Julius’ Bar to mark the significance of the sip-in.

“It’s so important that we not only honor sites like these that tell the diverse stories of our city and country’s history and culture but that we take affirmative steps like landmarking to ensure they are forever preserved,” Andrew Berman, executive director of Village Preservation, said in a statement.

Advocates have pushed for Julius’ to be recognized for its significance.

“LGBTQ+ and civil rights history like that which is embodied in Julius’ Bar are essential elements of our collective story, and it’s critical that they not be forgotten or erased. We’re very fortunate that Greenwich Village is so rich in these threads of our history, and we’re committed to ensuring they are recognized and preserved, for everyone’s benefit,” Berman said.

Calendaring a property is the first formal step in the designation process, followed by a public hearing and a vote.

See the original article on ABC7 NY here.

Queer Landmarks Are Everywhere—and This Group Is Working to Keep Them In Plain Sight

June 28, 2022
By: Jesse Dorris

Gay and trans history wasn’t always visible. The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project has set out to change that

Darryl Beckles, a traffic device worker in New York City, changes the street sign on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village
Darryl Beckles, a traffic device worker in New York City, changes the street sign on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village in Manhattan to Christopher Street/Stonewall Place on June 6, 1989. The sign—one of the queer landmarks catalogued by the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project—commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising.Photo: Erica Berger/Newsday RM via Getty Images

At this moment in our nation’s history, when LGBTQ+ Americans face erasure—whether through refusal of bodily autonomy and reproductive health care or censorship in classrooms and libraries—it’s never been more important to assert the simple fact of queer existence. Founded in August of 2015, the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project has identified and contextualized hundreds of locations where queer people have made their mark since the founding of the city in the 17th century to the turn of the millennium. From the apartment building in which Ronald I. Jacobowitz lived when he founded Gay Men of the Bronx in 1990 to the Beach Haven Bar, which in the late 1970s was Staten Island’s only lesbian watering hole, the project proves queer people have always been a part of New York City.

Plotted on an easily navigated website, the project pinpoints major landmarks like the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hill Queens, host of the 1977 U.S. Open in which Renée Richards fought for and won the right to compete as the woman she was. It locates schools throughout the city named for LGBTQ+ heroes (including Langston Hughes and Lorraine Hansberry), and treasure troves like the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. And although Manhattan’s mainstream sites of cultural production, like almost every Broadway theater, have their moment in the spotlight, the list rightfully pays respect to the quarters that marginalized communities made for themselves, including Harlem’s cruisy Mt. Morris Baths and South Slope’s Transy House, the collective shelter and activist center Sylvia Rivera called home.

James Baldwin in his NYC apartment
James Baldwin’s New York City apartment is a site identified as an LGBT landmark. Bettmann

Such scope is by design, says Columbia University’s professor of historic preservation Andrew Scott Dolkart. He cofounded the project with consultant Ken Lustbader and Jay Shockley, senior historian at the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. “We want to make the point that LGBT history is American history. We want to make an invisible history visible,” Dolkart says. “So we’re looking at places where cultural events took place because we’re particularly interested in the impact that queer people have made on American culture.”

For historians like Hugh Ryan, author of When Brooklyn Was Queer and the new The Women’s House of Detention, the project’s focus allows the public to better understand the people within these historic spaces. “When you have a sense of the people who use a building—what the light felt like [to them], and the door they went through—it makes them human,” he says. “It is an experience that connects us emotionally, physically, directly to our ancestors. And those moments are important for marginalized histories where so little is preserved and passed down.”

Patrons outside Cubbyhole bar
Cubbyhole, which first opened as DT’s Fat Cat in 1987, is one of New York’s last remaining lesbian bars. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

After first meeting while in the Columbia Historic Preservation Program in 1994, Dolkart and his cohort helped celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising by helping write the first guide to gay and lesbian sites in New York as members of the Organization of Lesbian and Gay Architects + Designers. Five years later they wrote the National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Stonewall bar and its surrounding area for its role in fostering the modern Gay Rights movement. “And then about five years ago,” Dolkart says, “the National Park Service was offering grants for underrepresented communities to expand the scope of listings on the National Register.” The trio applied and got the grant, which helped to birth the project itself.

Today, the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is part of the Partner Program of the Fund for the City of New York, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, with foundational support from organizations including the J.M. Kaplan Fund and corporate sponsors like ConEd and American Express. It offers walking tours through gay enclaves like Greenwich Village, sites of queer excellence like the Met, and ancestral resting places like Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. Since 2019, it has offered NYC public schools video segments and instructional materials on LGBTQ+ history throughout the boroughs.

But the heart of the mission is the buildings themselves. On the website, for instance, users can uncover the opulent High Modernism of the apartment and display case Paul Rudolph built for himself on Beekman Place—and then discover that its gay roots go much further back, as the home of First Lady of the Theater Katharine Cornell and her director-producer husband Guthrie McClintic. (Both were gay and united in an early example of so-called lavender marriages.) Such through lines challenge our understanding of both desire and design, serving as timelines for liberation. “The work they’re doing to show the cultural importance of these spaces,” Ryan says, “provides an architecture in and of itself for how we remember queer history. These places matter.”

See the original article on Architectural Digest here.

Remembering a ‘Sip-In’ for Gay Rights 56 Years Later

April 22, 2022
By: Leah Foreman

A permanent plaque at Julius’ Bar to commemorate the fight against discrimination

 

In front of Julius’, (from left to right) on April 21, 2022: Andrew Berman, Randy Wicker, Sen. Brad Hoylman, and Ken Lustbader look up at the new plaque, cementing the location in history. Photo: Leah Foreman
In front of Julius’, (from left to right) on April 21, 2022: Andrew Berman, Randy Wicker, Sen. Brad Hoylman, and Ken Lustbader look up at the new plaque, cementing the location in history. Photo: Leah Foreman

 

Fifty-six years ago, at Julius’ Bar in Greenwich Village, four openly gay men held a “Sip-In.”

The men were Dick Leitsch, Craig Rodwell, John Timmons and Randy Wicker and they were part of an early gay rights group known as the Mattachine Society. Leitsch and Rodwell were the New York chapter of the Mattachine Society’s president and vice president respectively.

On April 21, 1966, they traveled to various city bars with reporters to document the discrimination they faced under the New York State Liquor Authority, which prevented suspected gay or lesbian people from being served alcohol. After arriving at Julius’, they told the bartender they were homosexuals and he put his hand over a glass in front of them, denying them service.

This moment was captured in a photograph for the Village Voice by the late photographer Fred W. McDarrah. This resulted in unprecedented coverage of LGBTQ activism and civil rights.

The event later led to a change in NYSLA policy.

Today, this history is often overlooked. And Randy Wicker is the only surviving member of the Mattachine’s “Sip-In” left to tell the tale.

“When we took this action, we were legally challenging the state laws that said it was illegal to serve homosexuals alcohol or shall allow them to gather on your premises – that’s right of assembly,” Wicker said. “And by taking that legal action, setting that house of cards in order, we cracked the chain that held the Village and held the gay community in this country locked in the hands of the criminal underground.”

“Make Invisible History Visible”

More than 50 years later to the day, people gathered on West 10th Street to celebrate the bar and its history as a permanent plaque was installed to enshrine its contribution to gay civil rights. Julius’ is also the city’s oldest gay bar.

“Today we make an invisible history visible by installing a commemorative plaque on the exterior of Julius’ Bar, an important location in LGBTQ history,” Ken Lustbader, a founder of NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, said to the crowd.

When NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project was organized in 2015 to protect historically significant sites, Julius’ was the site on the list, which entered the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. Julius’ became the second LGBTQ site in the country on the register, after The Stonewall Inn, which got on in 1999.

The Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation worked in concert with NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project to get Julius’ recognized.

“What we’re doing is we’re helping people understand that the process of getting to where we were today was a long and slow one that took a lot of bravery, a lot of perseverance, and a lot of forward thinking by a lot of people —not all of whom are that well remembered today, but they should be,” said Andrew Berman, the executive director of GVSHP.

Plea for Donations

The plaque unveiling was held on the 56th Anniversary of the “Sip-In” and the six-year anniversary of when Julius’ got on the historic registry. It was pushed back because of the bar’s previous financial trouble and to ensure people could celebrate in person.

From shutting down the bar completely before St. Patrick’s Day in 2020 to serving to-go burgers only to limited indoor seating to surviving the brunt of the pandemic, Julius’ has been through the ringer. The bar’s owner, Helen Buford, made a plea for donations.

She received donations from patrons and from the Gil Foundation, a pro-LGBTQ philanthropic organization, which donated $20,000 and pledged to match donations on a GoFundMe created for the bar up to $25,000.

Broadway star and multihyphenate talent John Cameron Mitchell was born three years to the day before the “Sip-In.”

“This place is not going to become a Starbucks,” Mitchell said on April 21 in front of Julius’.

Except for during COVID, Mitchell and his friends have held dance parties at Julius’ once a month.

State Senator Brad Hoylman presented Buford with a certificate honoring Julius’ designation as a historic business in New York.

“I see this as kind of a collective F.U. to Florida and Texas as we stand here,” Hoylman said. “Because we are not going to let queer history be erased.”

Randy Wicker got up to the podium and spoke after being cajoled by the eager audience.

“So there are two reasons that Julius’ [is] my favorite bar. First of all, it’s because it was the place where we started the ball rolling to liberate our society from the mob. The second is a little bit more personal,” Wicker said as he pulled out a New York Times clipping, encased in plastic. “I got my picture two times on the obituary page of the New York Times. And I’m still here at 84 years old, to tell you about it … and say I’m still here, I’m still fighting. I’m the last Mattichino and will stay active as long as I can.”

I see this as kind of a collective F.U. to Florida and Texas as we stand here. Because we are not going to let queer history be erased. —State Senator Brad Hoylman

Photos: John Cameron Mitchell & More Acknowledge Julius’ Significance to LGBT Activism & History

April 22, 2022
By: Chloe Rabinowitz

Activists, preservationists, historians and others gathered to honor the site of the 1966 “Sip-In” at Julius’, on 56th anniversary of event.

Yesterday, Village Preservation; the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project; the owner of Julius’ Bar, located at 159 West 10th Street; special guest, Broadway star John Cameron Mitchell; LGBT activist and 1966 “Sip-In” participant, Randy Wicker; and others gathered for the unveiling of a plaque to acknowledge Julius’ significance to LGBT activism and history.

Check out photos below!

On April 21, 1966, members of the Mattachine Society, an early gay rights group, organized what became known as the “Sip-In” to challenge New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) regulations that were promulgated so that bars could not serve drinks to known or suspected gay men or lesbians, since their presence was considered de facto disorderly. The SLA regulations were one of the primary governmental mechanisms of oppression against the gay community because they precluded the right to free assembly. This was particularly important because bars were one of the few places where gay people could meet each other.

Mattachine members Dick Leitsch, Craig Rodwell, and John Timmons, accompanied by several reporters, went to a number of bars to document this discrimination. At Julius’, where they were joined by Randy Wicker, the group announced that they were “homosexuals” and asked to be served a drink – the bartender refused their request. This refusal received publicity in The New York Times and the Village Voice and was the first time LGBTQ discrimination had been proactively documented in mainstream media. The reaction by the SLA and the newly-empowered New York City Commission on Human Rights resulted in a change in policy and the birth of a more open gay bar culture. Scholars of gay history consider the “Sip-In” at Julius’ a key event leading to the growth of legitimate gay bars and the development of the bar as the central social space for urban gay men and lesbians.

Ken Lustbader, NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project: “Today we make an invisible history visible by installing a commemorative plaque on the exterior of Julius’ bar, an important location in LGBTQ history. In April 1966, courageous activists staged a ‘Sip-In’ to publicize the homophobic discrimination that the LGBTQ community experienced in bars, which could refuse them service if suspected of being homosexual. These pre-Stonewall trailblazers challenged the idea that LGBTQ people were second-class citizens – they deserved safe and welcoming places to socialize and build community. The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is proud to have undertaken extensive research and writing when nominating Julius’ to the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 2016 for LGBTQ history. Since then, we have nominated an additional ten sites directly associated with LGBTQ history. With the recent pushback of LGBTQ rights and attacks on queer people throughout the country, we’re proud to join with our partners at Village Preservation and Helen Buford, owner of Julius’, to formally memorialize this history with this tangible plaque. It will provide intangible benefits of identity, pride, and a connection to the past.”

Andrew Berman, Village Preservation: “As the city’s oldest gay bar and home of the pioneering 1966 ‘Sip-In’ protesting anti-gay discrimination, we are proud to be placing a plaque at Julius’ with our partners at the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project to honor this uniquely important civil rights site. Three years before Stonewall, when being gay was still considered a crime, these brave individuals protested for their right to gather free from harassment and discrimination. This is part of a long tradition of pioneering efforts for civil rights for LGBTQ people, African Americans, women, immigrants, and many others rooted in this neighborhood, from the first free black settlement in North America located here in the 17th century, to the fight for Women’s suffrage here in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, to the Stonewall Rebellion and many other agitations for LGBTQ+ rights which took place here in the late 20th century. We’re thrilled to be able to add this site as our 19th historic plaque in our neighborhoods, which have marked the homes of figures from James Baldwin to Jane Jacobs, Lorraine Hansberry to LeRoi Jones, Anais Nin to Alex Haley. We’re especially proud given that in 2012 we were able to get Julius’ determined eligible for the State and National Registers of Historic Places, when few LGBTQ+ sites had ever received such a determination, and we continue to advocate for individual New York City landmark designation for the site.”

 

Ken Lustbader, Helen Buford, Randy Wicker, John Cameron Mitchell, NY State Senator Brad Hoylman
Ken Lustbader, Helen Buford, Randy Wicker, John Cameron Mitchell, NY State Senator Brad Hoylman
Ken Lustbader, Helen Buford, Randy Wicker, John Cameron Mitchell, NY State Senator Brad Hoylman
Ken Lustbader, Helen Buford, Randy Wicker, John Cameron Mitchell, NY State Senator Brad Hoylman

 

John Cameron Mitchell
John Cameron Mitchell

 

NY State Senator Brad Hoylman and Helen Buford
NY State Senator Brad Hoylman and Helen Buford

 

Ken Lustbader, NY State Senator Brad Hoylman, Randy Wicker, and Andrew Berman
Ken Lustbader, NY State Senator Brad Hoylman, Randy Wicker, and Andrew Berman

 

Randy Wicker
Randy Wicker

NYC’s oldest gay bar honored with historic plaque

April 25, 2022
By: Aaron Ginsburg

Julius plaque in 6sqft artile
All images courtesy of the Village Preservation

The site of a monumental event in the LGBTQ community’s fight against anti-gay discrimination was honored last week with a historic plaque. The Village Preservation on Thursday unveiled the plaque at 159 West 10th Street, also known as Julius’ Bar. The bar was the site of the first “Sip-In,” an act of defiance in which members of gay rights groups entered the bar and asked to be served drinks while announcing they were homosexuals, going against the discriminatory regulations of the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) which at the time prohibited bars from serving gays or lesbians. 

The Village Preservation was joined by the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, Broadway star John Cameron Mitchell, and LGBTQ activist and “Sip-In” participant Randy Wicker.

Taking place on April 21, 1966, the first “Sip-In” was led by members of the Mattachine Society, a gay rights group. Members of Mattachine entered a multitude of bars accompanied by reporters to document the discrimination they would face. The members entered Julius’ Bar where they were joined by Wicker and asked the bartender to serve them drinks while announcing they were homosexuals, after which the bartender refused.

The bartender’s refusal was covered in the New York Times and the Village Voice, one of the first times LGBTQ discrimination received significant coverage in the mainstream media. This event led to historic changes in policy and is considered by historians to be a key moment in the creation of legitimate gay bars, an important social space for gay men and lesbians.

“As the city’s oldest gay bar and home of the pioneering 1966 ‘Sip-In’ protesting anti-gay discrimination, we are proud to be placing a plaque at Julius’ with our partners at the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project to honor this uniquely important civil rights site,” Andrew Berman, Executive Director of Village Preservation, said.

“Three years before Stonewall, when being gay was still considered a crime, these brave individuals protested for their right to gather free from harassment and discrimination.”

The plaque reads: “On April 21, 1966, members of the Mattachine Society, a pioneering gay rights organization, challenged a regulation that prohibited bars from serving LGBT people by staging a “Sip-In” at Julius’, a bar with a large gay clientele.”

The plaque continues: “With reporters and a photographer in tow, the activists announced they were homosexuals, asked to be served, and were refused. This early gay rights action and the attendant publicity helped to raise awareness of widespread anti-LGBT discrimination and harassment.”

This plaque marks the 19th location commemorated by the Village Preservation, which has honored a number of historic homes and establishments in the area. The last unveiling covered by 6sqft was of urbanist Jane Jacob’s Greenwich Village home where she wrote her seminal work, The Death and Life of American Cities.

NYC’s oldest gay bar — home to major pre-Stonewall public action for LGBTQ rights — gets commemorative plaque

April 20, 2022
By: Muri Assunção

Julius’ Bar, New York City’s oldest continuously operating gay bar, and home to a pivotal pre-Stonewall public action for LGBTQ rights, is finally getting a commemorative plaque — 56 years after a group of gay men used their drink orders to fight back against bars that refused to serve members of the LGBTQ community.

The plaque, presented by the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project in collaboration with Village Preservation, will honor Julius’ role in the ongoing fight for queer rights, as well as the site of the protest known as “Sip-In.”

On April 21, 1966, four members of the Mattachine Society, an early queer rights organization decided to challenge regulations adopted by bars to deny service to patrons who were seen as “disorderly” — a vague definition that New York City police used to refer to same-sex flirting, kissing or even touching.

Inspired by earlier sit-in demonstrations, protests enacted to desegregate diners in the American south, the four activists set out to expose the bigotry faced by the community at the time — three years before the Stonewall Riots, a series of violent protests often seen as the catalyst for a new phase in the fight for LGBTQ rights.

Julius' Bar in NY Daily News
Pride flags hang outside Julius’ in the West Village. (Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

They invited some reporters and a photographer, ordered a drink at Julius’ and then declared that they were gay. The bartender refused to serve them, the story made it to the press, and their courageous action became instrumental in bringing attention to widespread anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

That pivotal moment in queer liberation history, known as the “Sip-In” at Julius’, is the first documented case of anti-LGBTQ discrimination in New York City, according to Ken Lustbader, Ken Lustbader, a historic preservation consultant and a co-founder of the NYC LGBT Historic  Sites Project.

On Thursday, to mark Sip-In’s 56th anniversary, and to honor the listing of Julius’ Bar on the National Register of Historic Places, the organization, in collaboration with Village Preservation, is hosting an event to honor the bar — and the historic event.

Lustbader, Village Preservation’s Andrew Berman, as well as award-winning actor, screenwriter and director John Cameron Mitchell (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”), will unveil a historic plaque to celebrate the bar’s legacy on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET at Julius’ Bar, at 159 West 10th Street.

They will be joined by Julius’ owner Helen Buford, as well as Randy Wicker, the last living participant of the protest.

“This is about visibility,” Lustbader told the Daily News, speaking of the importance of having a plaque on a building for people to “walk by and see where gay history took place.”

“It’s especially important now with the pushback of [LGBTQ] rights and visibility, and its impact on children to know that there were other people that fought and who were visible and understood what they went through.”

He added, “We’re hoping that future generations, including this generation, will understand the importance of visibility and being who you are, and paving the way for a person to feel whole and entitled to be who they are.”

See the original article on New York Daily News here.

Historians and Preservationists Convene to Discuss LGBTQ+ Landmarks During Pride Month

June 18, 2021
By: Abigail Gruskin

NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project's Amanda Davis in Our Town

NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project pushes for landmark recognition despite obstacles

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, a local nonprofit advocating for recognition of historic buildings with queer pasts, lists the Stonewall Inn on its interactive map of LGBTQ+ sites in the city — along with over 350 additional, though perhaps lesser-known, sites of significance.

“The goal of the project is to broaden people’s knowledge of the city’s LGBT history, beyond the globally-recognized Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village,” Project Manager Amanda Davis said during an online panel hosted by the Preservation League of New York State last Thursday. “And in doing so, help push the conversation forward in rethinking how we interpret historic sites.”

At last week’s event, Davis was joined by historic preservation consultant Jeffrey “Free” Harris and Jeffry Iovannone, who spotlights LGBTQ+ landmarks in a blog series for Preservation Buffalo Niagara, for brief presentations and a conversation moderated by Larry Francer, the associate director of the Landmark Society of Western New York. The panelists addressed the unique hurdles of nominating sites for formal recognition based specifically on their LGBTQ+-related histories, but also spoke to the impact that such designations hold for the queer community.

Davis, Harris and Iovannone presented detailed information on a selection of LGBTQ+ sites in New York, most already bearing landmark status. For a building to be nationally recognized as a landmark, it must be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. The Stonewall Inn, Davis explained, was the first building in the U.S. to be recognized as a landmark for its significance as a site of LGBTQ+ history. Now, ten such sites in the city are similarly recognized by the state and national registers.

Trials and Tribulations

In addition to outlining the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project’s mission, Davis also dove into the challenges facing those who wish to register buildings as landmarks for their roles in LGBTQ+ history. The group, led by historians with ties to Columbia University, has penned a “historic context statement” for New York City to help situate individual sites within a broader history of queer culture in an effort to make the process of reviewing a building for landmark status more straightforward. Still, other hurdles persist.

“Owner consent is needed for a property to be listed on the National Register … and this can be a challenge when an owner doesn’t want to be associated with LGBT history,” Davis said.

Davis also mentioned that convincingly “identifying” historic figures as part of the LGBTQ+ community can prove difficult.

Beyond locating new sites for historic landmark recognition, Davis and others acknowledged that in some cases, pre-existing landmark listings must be amended to include reference to sites’ LGBTQ+ pasts, which may have originally been neglected. “History is not fixed,” Davis said. “We can go back in time and re-evaluate and include narratives that were left out.”

In other cases, sites of LGBTQ+ importance are in jeopardy of ceasing to exist altogether. “A lot of our sites are located in places that usually go through a great deal of change, neighborhoods that change,” explained Harris, whose presentation focused on African American LGBTQ+ historical sites. “They’re in areas that, you know, over time we see that they are gentrified or they’re torn down.”

In Western New York, there are currently no landmarks recognized exclusively for their ties to LGBTQ+ historical figures or events by the National Register of Historic Places — a reality which Iovannone hopes to soon change.

Underscoring LGBTQ+ Stories

The mission of Preservation Buffalo Niagara’s “Gay Places” initiative, which Iovannone cofounded in 2020, is not only to commemorate LGBTQ+ sites in Western New York, but also to shift the narrative that queer history is rooted solely in hotspots on either coast of the country.

“If we have sites in places like Buffalo or Rochester, right, that are listed on the National Register and have that sort of prestige and authenticity,” he explained, “it makes it much more, I think, difficult to ignore what happened outside of large cities on the coast.”

In addition to crafting blog posts that dive into LGBTQ+ history in the area and hosting informational events, Iovannone also broke ground on nominating the former home of transgender activist Peggie Ames, located in Clarence, New York, for landmark status with the National Register of Historic Places.

Presentations acknowledged that sites with LGBTQ+ significance can be appreciated even without official landmark status, especially through events that engage the local community, like walking tours. Still, Davis, Harris and Iovannone agreed that landmark status is a valuable way to recognize and legitimize the community’s history.

“There’s no question in my mind,” Harris said, “that the honorific of a National Register listing is important to people.”

See the original article on Our Town here.

Initiative uncovers historical sites linked to the LGBTQ+ movement across New York City

June 23, 2021
By: Lauren Glassberg

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — A new initiative is aiming to uncover historical sites linked to the LGBTQ+ movement across New York City that could be both informative and preservative.

The Stonewall Inn, where the gay rights movement was born, is a destination spot for many — including Brienne Pfifer and her ally friends who are visiting from Portland.

“This is giving me chills,” Pfifer said.

Across the street is Christopher Park, a national monument, currently surrounded by Pride flags.

“It’s my number one spot,” said Natalie Derewjanko, visiting from Chicago. “First stop in the city today.”

But what many visitors may not know about are the unmarked sites that also have LGBTQ+ ties, some dating back to the 1700s.

“We’re another minority community that has a rich history,” Jay Shockley said. “But no one was looking at it.”

That’s why he and his co-founders started the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, focused on making an invisible history visible.

“Even within the LGBT community, when we described what we were interested in, there was like, what else is there besides bars?” he said.

It turns out there’s whole lot — their website currently has 350 locations across all five boroughs.

They include what was once called the Ridiculous Theater Company, founded by a gay man, and a women’s detention center that also housed lesbians.

There’s also shop that was once a gay bookstore and community center.

“Our main goal is to teach our community we have a very rich history,” Shockley said.

People can use the data and map to create their own tours, where they can learn about those lesser known gems.

“I’d love to know the history of everywhere,” Pfifer said. “It’s such a beautiful thing. I’d love to know more.”

The initiative could also help preserve some of these sites by helping people learn and remember their significance.

See the original video on ABC7 News here.

 

Pride Is Coming Back to New York. Check Out These Events

20210603
By: Erik Piepenburg

 

NYC LGBT Historic Sites project in New York Times -- Pride Events
A return of 2019-style revelry. After last year’s Pride was canceled because of the pandemic, organizers are easing back into in-person events.Credit…Calla Kessler/The New York Times

 

The march on June 27 will be mostly virtual. But not to worry: There are plenty of in-person events, performances and celebratory exhibitions throughout the city this month.

Take a look at New York City’s Pride Month programming, and the pandemic-related clouds that shadowed Pride 2020 appear to be passing. Thanks to new state rules that ease mask mandates and capacity limits, many events this year can take place not from behind a screen but in person. People aren’t wasting time: Many events have sold out quickly.

The pandemic isn’t over, of course. Many businesses and organizations still have Covid protocols in place, and rules could change at the drop of the hat.

But Pride is regaining some of its sparkle this year. From family-friendly afternoons to potty-mouthed drag queen nights, here’s a selection of in-person events to help make this Pride Month a reason to — finally! — celebrate face to face.


Tours

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project offers a series of self-guided tours of significant queer locations across New York City. Many of the tours are grouped by theme, like lesbian activism and transgender history. The Village Pride Tour includes stops at Christopher Park, across from the Stonewall Inn, the landmark bar Julius’ and the former home of the Sea Colony, a popular lesbian watering hole.

Read the full article with all event listings at New York Times.

New York’s gay bars are still vital, especially post-COVID, owners say | Pride and Pandemic

20210615
By: Chris Welch

NEW YORK – For many, a place colloquially known as a “gay bar” was the only place you could go where you weren’t compelled to lie about who you were.

“The gay community had nowhere else to meet publicly,” said Ken Lustbader, the co-founder of NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

“This was their place, their safe place to be themselves,” said Helen Buford, the owner of Julius’ Bar, “[a place] where they weren’t accepted anywhere else.

“[It’s] a place where they know if they hit on someone, they’re not going to get beaten up or murdered,” said Lisa Cannistraci, the owner of Henrietta Hudson.

“People could lose their jobs, their families, employment, religious associations,” Lustbader added. “So bars became really safe spaces.”

But the gay bar of the past was much different than the one we think of today where every inch is covered in rainbow flags.

“In many cases, they were private clubs with bouncers at the door,” Lustbader said. “They were bottle clubs, you had a sign, a fictitious name in many cases to get in.”
You’d have to either be in possession of an underground guidebook listing places considered “safe” or rely on word of mouth.

That was all because of state law.

“After prohibition, the State Liquor Authority is formed, which has a regulation that basically says if you serve people who are disorderly you can lose your license,” Lustbader said. “Disorderly people were considered homosexuals.”

But you could easily argue that a certain black-and-white photograph — showing a group of men being denied a drink — laid the groundwork for the gay bars of today. And Randy Wicker, on the far end of the bar in that photo, was one of those men.

“We were saying, ‘We are homosexuals and we want to order a cocktail,'” Wicker said.

That’s when the bartender held out his hand.

“Saying, ‘No, oh no, not here. ‘Cause we already have trouble with that,'” Wicker said.

See, those well-dressed patrons — some of the earliest gay rights protestors — knew that Julius’ Bar in Greenwich Village was already being closely watched by state authorities due to prior infractions. So those protestors thought something might go down. And that was the purpose that night.

“We wanted to have a place refuse to serve us for being homosexual,” Wicker said.

So they brought a photographer and newspaper reporter with them to document it. The incident has become known as the “sip in.”

“That would be the first case against homosexuals actually proactively documented,” Lustbader said.

And it all happened in 1966 — three years prior to the Stonewall riots, widely seen as the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement.

But this piece of history, Julius’ Bar, was almost gone for good thanks to COVID.

“I had such a deflated feeling,” Buford said. “I was pretty down, I have to say. When we first closed, it was awful.”

But thanks to federal loans, community support, and donations from the LGBT-focused nonprofit Gill Foundation, the city’s oldest gay bar is here to stay.

But others — like Tom Johnson, the former owner of Therapy Lounge — weren’t as lucky.

“We sell drinks to people to pay for ourselves, to pay for our shows, to pay for everything,” Johnson said from his new home in Chicago. “If we’re not selling drinks, what are you going to do?”

In 2003, Therapy Lounge became one of the first gay bars to open up in Hell’s Kitchen, paving the way for a slew of others and changing the face of the neighborhood into one that, these days, has lot more rainbow flags that it used to.

But Therapy’s business model was no match for the past year’s COVID restrictions.

“We couldn’t open up for delivery to-go out of Therapy with burgers and nachos, and a 20-foot space in front,” Johnson said. “It just wouldn’t cut it when you have 5,000 square feet and the only time you really made money was on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night when the place was at capacity for hours.”

But even though Johnson won’t be part of it, he said he is confident New York’s gay nightlife will come back.

Someone who will be a part of that comeback is Alexi Minko, even though for a period it was touch-and-go for his bar, Alibi Lounge.

“Like the kids say, ‘The struggle is real,'” Minko said with a laugh.

He has kept a remarkably upbeat attitude, considering the financial setback. See, like most gay bars, Alibi — one of the only gay- and Black-owned businesses in Harlem — was not accustomed to making money with curbside takeout.

“Because Alibi is not, was not, a restaurant. We were more a club-type of lounge establishment,” Minko said. “Between the months of April to June, it was absolutely impossible, it was a nightmare.”

He had to lay off five of his eight employees. But he said that thanks to donations and the generosity of his landlord, Alibi Lounge will stay open. And this Pride Month marks Alibi’s fifth anniversary.

Also still around — and celebrating its 30th anniversary — is the West Village‘s Henrietta Hudson, one of the city’s only remaining lesbian bars. But COVID has without a doubt left its mark here, too.

“COVID changed people,” Cannistraci, the owner, said. “It changed me.

And she said she knew the pandemic would also change customers’ attitudes toward a crowded space.

“I knew then packed dance floors would be the last thing to open,” she said.

That is why after more than a year to finalize plans and undergo construction, Henrietta recently opened up with a renewed focus.

“I wouldn’t say COVID changed it — I’d say COVID activated it,” Cannistraci said.

The bar puts less emphasis on the dancefloor and more on a quieter, culinary experience.

“With all the isolation, I think people want to sit and actually look each other in the eye and talk to them,” Cannistraci said from her brand-new colorful outdoor dining structure.

That right there is one of the reasons she believes that even in 2021 — with all the progress we’ve made — there is still a need for a gay bar. A need to meet other people who share the same shoes in a safe space.

“They sit down at the bar and you can see their shoulders just go down, and there’s this exhale,” Cannistraci said. “You know, they’re home.”

Johnson, the former owner of Therapy Lounge, called it “strength in numbers.”

“If you’re the only gay guy in a straight bar and they come at you with a pool stick and start beating you up,” he said, “it’s different when you’re all together and you have a more secure safe space, where like-minded people will protect you.”

Julius’ Buford said bars catering to the LGBTQ community can’t disappear.

“People can’t go back in the closet,” she said. “They have to be free to be who they are and to love who they want to love.”

BARS MENTIONED

Julius’ | 159 W. 10 St., New York, N.Y. 10014 | 877-746-0528 | juliusbarny.com
Henrietta Hudson | 438 Hudson St., New York, N.Y. 10014 | 212-924-3347 | henriettahudson.com
Alibi Lounge | 2376 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., New York, N.Y. 10030 | 917-472-7789 | alibiharlem.com

 

Read the full story and watch the video at Fox 5 News.

NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project ‘Making An Invisible History Visible’

June 14, 2021
By: Natalie Duddridge (CBS News)

Andrew Dolkart on CBS News -- Yahoo! News Click image to see full video on Yahoo! News

The Stonewall Inn is probably the best known site when it comes to LGBTQ history and activism. But there are hundreds of other touchpoints in this culture and history that have amazing stories behind them. CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reports.

Watch the full video at Yahoo! News.

Pride Month: NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project ‘Making An Invisible History Visible’

20210614
By: Natalie Duddridge

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The Stonewall Inn is probably the best known site when it comes to LGBTQ history and activism.  But there are hundreds of other touchpoints in this culture and history that have amazing stories behind them.

In buildings grand and non-descript, locations famous and private, there is rich LGBTQ history in just about every corner of New York City.

The national recognition for this historic site is due in large part to the work of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, which highlights New York City LGBT community’s influence in the arts, literature, and social justice. It also nominates sites to the National Register of Historic Places.

“We like to say that we’re making an invisible history visible,” said Andrew Dolkart, co-founder of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

“We have posted on our site over 350 sites, and we have a list with well over double that number that we would like to, to add,” Dolkart said.

Locations on the Historic Sites Project provide walking or armchair tours in the five boroughs. For example, on Staten Island, there is the Alice Austin House.

“Alice Austin was a pioneering woman photographer… when it became a house museum, they refuse to acknowledge that there was any lesbian relationship,” Dolkart said.

Through the work of the Historic Sites Project, Austen’s sexuality is now embraced as part her cultural contributions. Some of her provocative images included women dressed in male drag. Austen lived in the home with Gertrude Tate, her partner of 53 years.

The West Side Tennis Club in Queens was the home of the US Open for over 60 years, featuring history-making players such as Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King .

“This is where Renee Richards, who was the first trans woman to compete in a professional tournament, tournament play, and this was very controversial as this still is today,” Dolkart said.

Other historic sites include the entire Theater District.

“We have mentioned every single Broadway theater,” Dolkart said.

Dolkart says LGBTQ contributions are critical to all aspects of this business from the artistic to the technical.

There are dozens of historical residences to peruse too. St. Luke’s Place was home to famed director Aurthur Laurents. Playwright and gay activist Larry Kramer lived at 2 Fifth Avenue. Harlem Renaissance poet Lanston Hughes on East 127th street, and there’s the Lexington Avenue home of artist Andy Warhol. Literary icon James Baldwin’s rowhouse on West 71st street is listed on the national registry, as is the Bleecker Street home of playwright Lorraine Hansberry.

“It’s where she wrote A Raisin in the Sun, the first play on Broadway that was written by a Black woman, and the first play by a Black woman to win the New York Drama Circle Critics Award,” Dolkart said.

The Church of the Holy Apostles is also more than a noted New York City landmark.

“It has this really important social history that relates to the LGBT community, because it was the home of many of the earliest post-Stonewall activist organizations from 1969 to 1974,” Dolkart said.

Also relative to Stonewall was the Wooster Street firehouse, headquarters of the Gay Activists Alliance.

“In the early 1970s, they were involved in civil rights activism. They were involved in trying to end the entrapment of gay men and lesbians,” Dolkart siad.

The GAA moved out of that building in 1974, because of a fire, allegedly set by a homophobic arsonist.

That firehouse is also part of the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District.

Watch the full video at CBS New York.

Historic Sites Project explores LGBT history in NYC

20210602
By: Diane Bair and Pamela Wright

The group highlights the community’s influence in the arts, literature, and social justice

 

NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project in Boston Globe
Christopher Park was designated the Stonewall National Monument in 2016 to recognize the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, a key turning point in the LGBT civil rights movement.COURTESY/NYC LGBT HISTORIC SITES PROJECT

NEW YORK — We looked up at the modest three-story building at 337 Bleecker St. in Greenwich Village. It was officially listed to the National Register of Historic Places in April 2021. This was the former residence of Black lesbian playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry, who lived here in a third-floor apartment from 1953 to 1960. It’s here where Hansberry wrote “A Raisin in the Sun” (1959), becoming the first African American playwright and the youngest playwright ever to win the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best American Play. It’s also where Hansberry read the play aloud to her friend Philip Rose, who went on to produce it, and where she posed for a Vogue magazine article, one month after the play’s premiere.

The national recognition for this historic site is due in large part to the work of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, which highlights New York City LGBT community’s influence in the arts, literature, and social justice. It also nominates sites to the National Register of Historic Places.

Lorraine Hansberry residence
The modest three-story building in Greenwich Village was the former residence of Black lesbian playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry, who lived here in a third-floor apartment from 1953 to 1960. It was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places in April 2021.COURTESY/NYC LGBT HISTORIC SITES PROJECT

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,” says Ken Lustbader, co-director, NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. “If you visit our website map, you’ll see that we’ve created an LGBT cultural heritage landscape.”

The project has identified 350 significant sites throughout the city that are important to LGBT history and offers 22 curated themes and tours. For example, the AIDS Crisis tour includes residences of influential AIDS activists and artists, and locations where events and demonstrations were held, and the Art and Architecture tour highlights the ways LGBT people have helped shape the landscape of the city. The 1970s Lesbian Activism and Community tour includes 16 sites, like the Women’s Liberation Center, which was just listed on the National Register of Historic Places in May 2021, and the former residence of renowned Black lesbian activist Audre Lorde. The Broadway Theater tour is the largest, with 42 sites.

We decided to explore Greenwich Village, an historic center for the LGBT community, and hub of activism. The self-guided Greenwich Village history tour, made in partnership with the National Parks Conservation Association, was one of the first themed tours the organization developed. It includes 17 sites within an easy, walkable loop.

Snake Pit entrance
Entrance to the Snake Pit was in the basement of this corner building. In 1970, less than a year after Stonewall, the police raided the Snake Pit bar and detained many people at the local police station, sparking protest marches and demonstrations.COURTESY/NYC LGBT HISTORIC SITES PROJECT

After visiting the Hansberry House, we walked to Christopher Park, where the tour begins. The park was designated the Stonewall National Monument in 2016 to recognize the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, a key turning point in the LGBT civil rights movement. After the uprising, Christopher Street would become one of the best-known LGBT streets in the world and remains a popular area for LGBT and queer youth of color.

We strolled the park and read the tour map. “Bleecker Street in the 1890s had a number of ‘fairy’ bars, often subject to raids, where cross-dressing young men solicited male customers,” according to the tour guide. Later, the Village became one of the first neighborhoods in New York City with a large LGBT population, and the location of many bars and clubs that welcomed LGBT customers. “Gay bars were crucial to creating a sense of community and cultivating political action in an era of discrimination,” we read.

Christopher Street
After the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, Christopher Street would become one of the best-known LGBT streets in the world.COURTESY/NYC LGBT HISTORIC SITES PROJECT

We passed the site of the infamous Stonewall Inn, the bar that police raided in 1969, sparking the uprising and the site of the former office of the Mattachine Society, an early national gay rights organization, once considered quite radical. It’s now home to the historic Kettle of Fish bar, established in 1950 and popular with beat musicians and writers.

We visited Marie’s Crisis Café, an historic piano bar that first opened in 1920 as a speakeasy, and discovered that the lesbian novelist Patricia Highsmith was a regular here. Highsmith wrote 22 novels under the pen name Claire Morgan, including “Strangers on a Train” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” Many of her novels were set in Greenwich Village. Next, we headed to Washington Place to the site of the start of New York’s First Pride March, held in 1970.

It was a beautiful, warm spring day, and the village was hopping. After the long COVID-19 shutdown and slowdown, folks were out and about, sidewalk cafes, and coffeehouses were open, and parks were filled with dog walkers and families. It felt good.

Stonewall
The infamous Stonewall Inn is the bar that police raided in 1969, igniting the Stonewall Uprising.COURTESY/NYC LGBT HISTORIC SITES PROJECT

We didn’t mind hauling it up to 10th Street to visit Julius’ Bar. During the 1960s, the New York State Liquor Authority regularly revoked the licenses of bars known to serve gay men and lesbians. On April 21, 1966, members of the Mattachine Society staged the Sip-In protest here, publicizing and challenging the Authority’s discriminatory practice. According to our tour map, “It was one of the earliest pre-Stonewall public actions for LGBT rights and a big step forward in legitimizing LGBT bars in New York.”

We ended our tour with a walk down Greenwich Avenue, once known as the “cruisiest street in the Village.”

For more information, visit www.nyclgbtsites.org. In addition to the 350 historic Web entries, the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is now researching 300 additional sites in the city, and working on other themes, including City of Immigrants, Communities of Color, Progressive-Era Reformers, and Gay-Owned Businesses. They’re also planning to produce brief, virtual thematic tours that viewers could watch on their YouTube channel.

Interactive map reveals lesser-known landmarks in Queens’ LGBTQ rights movement June 29, 2020

June 29, 2020
By: David Brand

 

LGBTQ RIGHTS PIONEER FRANK KAMENY GREW UP IN THIS HOME ON 115TH STREET IN RICHMOND HILL, ONE OF 16 QUEENS SITES INCLUDED IN THE NEW INTERACTIVE NYC LGBT HISTORIC SITES PROJECT MAP. PHOTOS VIA NYC LGBT RIGHTS PROJECT, DAVD VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

That modest brick home on 115th Street in Richmond Hill? Easy to miss, but it’s an iconic location in LGBTQ New Yorkers’ long struggle for equity.

So is a stretch of Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood, a Jackson Heights street corner and even the New York State Pavilion in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

All four sites are included in a citywide initiative known as the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, which highlights the pivotal role that lesser known locations played in the ongoing movement for LGBTQ rights. The project, which features an interactive map, documents 270 historic landmarks, including 16 so far in Queens.

“All of this history is largely unknown to the general public and we want to educate the LGBT community and youth about this history and make it visible,” said Project Manager Amanda Davis, an Astoria resident. “It goes well beyond the obvious neighborhoods of Greenwich Village and places in Manhattan, which tend to get a lot of attention.”

“Queens has a really great history, too,” she added.

Take that unassuming, semi-detached house in Richmond Hill. It was the childhood home of pioneering activist Frank Kameny, who became a leading strategist for the LGBT rights movement after he was fired by the federal government because he was gay. Kameny was later honored by President Barack Obama at the White House.

Myrtle Avenue was the scene of an important 1993 rally known as the March for Truth, organized by the Anti-Violence Project and Queens Gays and Lesbians United. The demonstrators came together to respond to backlash to a public school curriculum that included information about families with LGBT parents. The “Children of the Rainbow” curriculum riled homophobic parents and school officials and set off controversy across the city, starting in Queens’ School District 24.

At the intersection of 78th Street and 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, a street sign designates Julio Rivera Corner to honor the 29-year-old gay bartender who was tortured and murdered by three men near the location in 1990.

The early 1990s march and murder, Davis said, “made people in Queens realize we have to become more visible, we are your friends, your family. We’re not just in Manhattan.”

The famous New York State Pavilion is included in the project because of its association with Architect Philip Johnson and artists Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol, all of whom identified as gay or bisexual.

Other locations include St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Astoria, which served as the mid-90s meeting place for the Queens chapter of SAGE, an organization for older LGBTQ adults.

“It’s important to highlight the role of churches in a positive way,” Davis said “There are progressive, welcoming and inclusive places.”

The Jackson Heights starting point of the first Queens Pride Parade, founded in 1993, is on the NYC LGBT Rights Project map. So is the Austin Street home of Kitty Genovese, whose death fueled sensationalized and false reporting that contributed to a perception of apathetic New Yorkers. Genovese lived in the home with her girlfriend.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm, a Queens Pride Parade co-founder, said the march has draw more attention to the LGBTQ rights movement over the past 27 years. This year’s event was cancelled because of COVID-19, but organizers Zachariah Boyer and Mo George ensured events took place virtually to mark Pride month.

“Pride marches bring visibility to our community, and that has always been key to the success of the wider LGBTQ rights movement,” Dromm said. “By celebrating Queens Pride virtually on June 7th, we continued to be visible and celebrate who we are — and did so in a safe and responsible manner. It took a lot of creativity and looked very different from past pride events, but it was a major success.”

Nine other Queens locations are also included in the NYC LGBT Historic Sites project. To learn more, or to recommend additional sites, visit nyclgbtsites.org.

“We hope that our website inspires the LGBT community and youth, who are often not taught this history, in particular,” the creators, led by Executive Director Ken Lustbader, write on the website. “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.”

Tour New York’s LGBTQ+ historic sites through this 3D experience

June 25, 2020
By: Shaye Weaver

It’s a “powerful tool for anyone, anywhere in the world, to connect viscerally to the sites.”

There’s a new way to get perspective this Pride—a 3D tour of New York’s LGBTQ+ landmarks, from the Stonewall Inn to Christopher Park.

2020 has presented us with some challenges, but it’s nothing the LGBTQ+ community can’t handle. The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project and the non-profit archiver CyArk teamed up to create the 3D tour so that New Yorkers and people around the world can still commemorate and get a deeper understanding of LGBTQ+ history this month and beyond.

The new tour, which you can access here, uses high-resolution 3D models, captured by CyArk using photogrammetry and LIDAR. Ken Lustbader, co-founder of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites project, narrates the tour that covers nine different locations that illuminate the events of the history-making 1969 Stonewall uprising and the activism that followed.

“This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, NYC’s first-ever Pride march,” Lustbader said. “Unfortunately, the realities of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic prohibit our LGBTQ community from gathering in large numbers to celebrate. The 3D model created by CyArk, paired with our historic narrative, is a powerful tool for anyone, anywhere in the world, to connect viscerally to the sites that represent our history.”

Tourists can actually go inside the Stonewall Inn, for example, and pan around, to learn about the famous bar, which was at first a mafia-owned gay bar that had bouncers and a fee to get in. While inside, we learn exactly where the riots began, and what the bar looked like during that time. (It was bigger with a full dance floor in one space and the bar in the next.)

See it for yourself at cyark.org/projects/stonewall-national-monument.

Former Residence Of Celebrated Writer Lorraine Hansberry Is Now A National Historic Place

20210519
By: Keenan "HIGz" Higgins

Beloved playwright and writer Lorraine Hansberry did a lot for Black culture in her 34 years of life, from giving us fine works of art like the unforgettable play A Raisin in the Sun to her activism for both the African American and LGBTQ communities that she proudly was a member of. Now, her old residence in New York City has been officially nominated to the New York State Register of Historic Places as a way to honor her memory.

Hansberry’s humble abode, located at 337 Bleecker Street in the city’s gay-friendly Greenwich Village neighborhood, was nominated to be recognized by the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project in March 2021. Working alongside the New York State Historic Preservation Office, the address was successfully and officially added to the National Register list last month.

The life of Lorraine was one of complication and oftentimes contradiction, especially being that she came into living at the now-historic residence with her husband at the time, Broadway theater producer Robert Nemiroff. It was in this apartment that she was also able to privately explore her lesbianism, which may have led to the couple’s separation four years after marriage. However, whether she was with a man or a woman, Lorraine Hansberry proved that she couldn’t be defined by her sexuality by letting her amazing skills as a writer speak for itself.

“While residing at 337 Bleecker Street, Hansberry lived parallel lives,” reads the official press release, which continues by adding, “one as a celebrated playwright and the other as a woman who privately explored her homosexuality through her writing, relationships, and social circle.” Although it’s been well over five decades since passing away due to pancreatic cancer, Lorraine Hansberry and her illustrious legacy will live on forever…especially on Bleecker Street in NYC.

Lorraine Hansberry residence is now listed as a national historic site

20210519
By: Sytonia Reid

The ‘Raisin in the Sun’ playwright is honored for her work and support of the LGBTQ+ community

The New York City home of indelible playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry is now officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Though she kept her sexuality private throughout her lifetime, Hansberry routinely addressed LGBTQ+ topics in her writing and had romantic relationships with women.

Her home’s designation as a historic place follows the advocacy efforts of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

“Honoring the very place where Lorraine Hansberry lived and worked through these State and National Register listings marks another important step in our mission to highlight the contributions of LGBT people to American history,” said Amanda Davis, project manager, NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project in a press release.

The Chicago-born writer is best known for her play A Raisin In the Sun which premiered on Broadway in 1959. The play’s title stems from a line in the poem “Harlem” by Langston Hughes.

Hansberry bonded with other writers and artists who were part of the LGBTQ+ community including James Baldwin and Nina Simone. She worked on the play at her apartment on 337 Bleecker Street in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village–a location where numerous historic events have taken place including the 1969 Stonewall uprising. She lived in the apartment from 1953 to 1960, according to the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

“Hansberry’s active involvement in the civil rights movement and her influential writings on gender expectations and being a lesbian in 1950s America make her a thought-provoking figure for our time,” added Davis. “The proximity of the Lorraine Hansberry Residence to Stonewall National Monument also provides an invaluable opportunity for tours and school groups to expand on their understanding of LGBT history beyond the 1969 Stonewall uprising”.

In recent years, scholars have learned more about Hansberry’s life. She was a contributor to the The Ladder magazine which was the country’s first nationally-distributed lesbian magazines, and many of those writings have been cited by journalists and scholars, along with her journal entries.

In one of her Ladder pieces, Hansberry asserts, “What ought to be clear is that one is oppressed or discriminated against because one is different, not ‘wrong,’ or ‘bad’ somehow.”

People can view archival photos, video documentaries and learn more about Hansberry on the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project website.

“For many students across the country, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun is a first introduction to theater and playwriting. Not included in many of the curricula is the all too brief life of the author,” said NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation commissioner Erik Kulleseid.

“The listing of Hansberry’s residence in the NYS and National Registers adds to the scholarship of her life as a gay author in the 1950s and 60s.”

 

Residence of Lorraine Hansberry Listed to National Register of Historic Places

20210519
By: BWW News Desk

Hansberry was also a dedicated activist for social justice, and she remains an important figure at the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality.

Lorraine HansberryThe former residence of Black lesbian playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, underscoring Hansberry’s incredible contributions to American arts and culture. Her play, A Raisin in the Sun (1959), was the first play by a Black woman to appear on Broadway. The Lorraine Hansberry Residence, at 337 Bleecker Street, in Greenwich Village, was first successfully nominated to the New York State Register of Historic Places by the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project in March 2021, in collaboration with the New York State Historic Preservation Office. The historic site was officially listed to the National Register in April 2021.

While residing at 337 Bleecker Street, Hansberry lived parallel lives: one as a celebrated playwright and the other as a woman who privately explored her homosexuality through her writing, relationships, and social circle.

Amanda Davis, Project Manager, NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project: “Honoring the very place where Lorraine Hansberry lived and worked through these State and National Register listings marks another important step in our mission to highlight the contributions of LGBT people to American history. The site is also one of what we hope is a growing number of historic places nationwide that celebrates the achievements of Black women and lesbians of color. Hansberry’s active involvement in the civil rights movement and her influential writings on gender expectations and being a lesbian in 1950s America make her a thought-provoking figure for our time. The proximity of the Lorraine Hansberry Residence to Stonewall National Monument also provides an invaluable opportunity for tours and school groups to expand on their understanding of LGBT history beyond the 1969 Stonewall uprising.”

Erik Kulleseid, Commissioner of the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation: “For many students across the country, Lorraine Hansberry‘s A Raisin in the Sun is a first introduction to theater and playwriting. Not included in many of the curricula is the all too brief life of the author. The listing of Hansberry’s residence in the NYS and National Registers adds to the scholarship of her life as a gay author in the 1950s and 60s. Our partnership with the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project continues to yield listings in the registers and solidifies New York’s leadership in the recognition of the lives and contributions of the LGBTQ+ community.”

From the National Register nomination, completed by the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project:

The property at 337 Bleecker Street, in Greenwich Village, is nationally significant under Criterion B for its association with the pioneering Black lesbian playwright, writer, and activist Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965). Hansberry resided in a third-floor apartment in the building from 1953 to 1960, the period of significance. During this time, she wrote her groundbreaking play A Raisin in the Sun in the apartment and, in 1957, first read it aloud there to her friend Philip Rose, who went on to produce it. In March 1959, Hansberry made history as the first Black woman to have a play staged on Broadway with Raisin’s premiere at the Ethel Barrymore Theater, in Manhattan. She became the first African American playwright, and the youngest playwright ever, to win the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best American Play.

An instant celebrity, Hansberry was photographed in her book-lined apartment on Bleecker Street for Vogue Magazine one month after the play’s premiere. A Raisin in the Sun, considered a classic, has become part of established literary canon and is taught in schools throughout the United States. The play is also still widely produced.

Hansberry was also a dedicated activist for social justice, and she remains an important figure at the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality. She worked alongside civil rights activists, such as her friends, writer James Baldwin and singer Nina Simone, and contributed to a variety of publications that focused on racial justice, communist, women’s equality, and LGBT causes in her lifetime. Many of these articles were written in her apartment at 337 Bleecker Street.

Even before the success of A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry privately began to explore her lesbian identity; she found community in her small lesbian social circle in Greenwich Village and had at least two relationships with women who lived close by to her Bleecker Street apartment. While she was vocal about civil rights and other issues – speaking at an NAACP rally in Washington Square Park in 1959, for example – she remained private about her sexuality, choosing instead to participate in LGBT issues anonymously through her writing, both before and after she achieved fame for Raisin. She was among the earliest literary contributors to The Ladder (1956-1972), the national monthly magazine of the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), the country’s first lesbian rights organization, founded in San Francisco in 1955.

Playwright Lorraine Hansberry’s Former New York City Residence Receives Historic Distinction

May 23, 2021
By: Brandee Sanders

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project teamed up with the New York State Historic Preservation Office for the effort.

Hansberry tweetRenowned playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry’s contributions to the arts will forever be embedded in the fabric of history and an effort to preserve a significant element of her journey has moved forward. According to Broadway World, the visionary’s former New York City residence has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The home—where Hansberry dwelled between the years of 1953 and 1960—is located at 337 Bleecker Street; in the heart of the Greenwich Village neighborhood. The residence served as the backdrop for Hansberry’s evolution as a pivotal figure. Her time there was one of both professional and personal progression as she made triumphs in her career and explored and embraced her homosexuality. In the space, she penned A Raisin in the Sun which made it to the Ethel Barrymore Theater stage, making her the first African American woman playwright to have her work performed on Broadway. She used the proceeds she earned from the play to acquire the residential building in 1960.

Three years prior to her Broadway debut she and her husband separated. She later formed a long-time relationship with Dorothy Secules, one of the building’s residents. It was in her Bleecker Street apartment where she penned poignant pieces that explored racial justice, LGBT rights and women’s equality.

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project teamed up with the New York State Historic Preservation Office for the effort. “Honoring the very place where Lorraine Hansberry lived and worked through these State and National Register listings marks another important step in our mission to highlight the contributions of LGBT people to American history,” Amanda Davis, who serves as Project Manager for NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, said in a statement. “The site is also one of what we hope is a growing number of historic places nationwide that celebrates the achievements of Black women and lesbians of color. Hansberry’s active involvement in the civil rights movement and her influential writings on gender expectations and being a lesbian in 1950s America make her a thought-provoking figure for our time. The proximity of the Lorraine Hansberry Residence to Stonewall National Monument also provides an invaluable opportunity for tours and school groups to expand on their understanding of LGBT history beyond the 1969 Stonewall uprising.”

News about Hansberry’s residence being added to the National Register of Historic Places comes nearly two months after civil rights leader Malcolm X’s childhood home in Boston was placed on the list.

Celebrating Pride Month with History

20210531
By: George Bodarky

LGBT flag

 

This month, WFUV News is teaming up with the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project to explore the impact of local people and places in LGBTQ history. The series explores several themes from Lesbian rights activism to New York City’s literary scene.

LESBIAN RIGHTS ACTIVISM:

ARTS AND THEATER SCENE:

THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE:

NEW YORK CITY’S LITERARY SCENE:

ACTIVISM OUTSIDE MANHATTAN:

Forgotten but pivotal moment in gay-rights movement took place 50 years ago in NYC

20190307
By: MURI ASSUNÇÃO

 

The New York Daily News cover showing a 23-year-old man who had jumped out of a police precinct and ended up impaled on a fence. “Spiked on Iron Fence.”(New York Daily News)
The New York Daily News cover showing a 23-year-old man who had jumped out of a police precinct and ended up impaled on a fence. “Spiked on Iron Fence.”(New York Daily News)

While millions gathered in New York City in June to celebrate 50 years of the Stonewall uprising, there’s surprisingly little attention paid to confrontations between the NYPD and the LGBTQ community that took place after those six days in the summer of 1969.

An equally important episode took place less than nine months after those culture-changing summer days.

The Snake Pit raid, a NYPD offensive on LGBTQ patrons of another another gay-run bar — located just six blocks from the Stonewall Inn — ended with 167 arrests, a quick response by some recently formed queer rights organizations, a march of about 500 angry protesters, as well as plenty of mainstream media coverage, including a dramatic Daily News cover of a 23-year-old man who had jumped off a police precinct and ended up impaled on a fence.

The headline read “Spiked on Iron Fence.”

According to Ken Lustbader, a historic preservationist and the co-founder of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, the Snake Pit was an after-hours bar that occupied the basement space under 215 W 10th St. in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.

 

Snake Pit Bar

 

In the early hours of March 8, 1970 — 50 years ago Sunday — the bar was raided by Seymour Pine, the same lieutenant who’d raided the Stonewall Inn a little over eight months earlier.

Fearing an episode like the six-day Stonewall uprising, Pine took a more drastic approach.

“He didn’t want to have another Stonewall and didn’t want people milling around on the streets,” Lustbader told the Daily News on Friday. “So basically they took everyone out of the bar — there were 167 men from the primarily adult male gay bar — and took them to the 6th precinct, which was at that time on Charles St., a block and a half away.”

 

Gay Activists Alliance flyer for the Snake Pit raid protest, March 1970.(NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project)
Gay Activists Alliance flyer for the Snake Pit raid protest, March 1970.(NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project)

 

One of those booked was a 23-year-old Argentinian immigrant, Diego Viñales, who “got apparently scared and jumped out the window and was impaled on the fence, which the Daily News photograph shows,” Lustbader added.

Unable to get Viñales off the fence, the NYPD called the fire department to help. After word got out, some 500 protesters gathered to march from Christopher Park, now Stonewall National Monument, to the police station later that afternoon.

Viñales was finally cut loose and taken to nearby St. Vincent’s Hospital, where he spent several days, but ultimately survived and moved back to Argentina.

 

23-year-old Argentinian immigrant, Diego Viñales, apparently got scared and jumped out the precinct window and was impaled on an iron fence.(Giorandino, Frank/New York Daily News)
23-year-old Argentinian immigrant, Diego Viñales, apparently got scared and jumped out the precinct window and was impaled on an iron fence.(Giorandino, Frank/New York Daily News)

 

The NYPD decided to arrest and book Snake Pit patrons as a way to avoid mayhem and to stop a potential Stonewall 2.0. Instead, the arrests mobilized early queer liberation groups that had formed and gained strength after the uprising of 1969.

Some of the arrested men found an empty police office at the stationhouse and started making phone calls.

“That’s when the GAA [Gay Activists Alliance] along the Gay Liberation Front, which was formed in July, 1969 right after Stonewall, got together and organized a march with about 500 people,” said Lustbader.

A flyer put out by the GAA calling for the gathering of the LGBTQ groups read, in dramatic handwritten form, “One boy either fell or jumped out precinct window, landed and was impaled on a metal fence! Any way you look at it — that boy was PUSHED!! We are all being pushed.”

Although the Snake Pit raid is rarely brought up in conversations about the foundations of early queer liberation movement, “it’s a really important pivotal point [in LGBTQ history], which was picked up with good press as opposed to the bad press that Stonewall got in many cases.”

The little-known raid also ended up adding some high-profile voices to the growing list of activist fighters for LGBTQ rights.

Morty Manford was eating a sandwich at Mama’s Chicken Rib, a popular gay coffee shop on Greenwich Avenue, when he saw “hundreds of people with protest signs,” and decided to join in.

“The purpose of this march was to protest police conduct at the raid of a bar called the Snake Pit,” Manford told journalist Eric Marcus in 1989, an interview featured in an episode of the popular “Making Gay History” podcast.

 

A current-day photo of the stairwell and iron rail that leads to the former basement entrance of the Snake Pit, located to the left of the apartment building entry.(NYC LGBT historic Sites Project)
A current-day photo of the stairwell and iron rail that leads to the former basement entrance of the Snake Pit, located to the left of the apartment building entry.(NYC LGBT historic Sites Project)

 

“The moral outrage was certainly very personal in my own heart. At the conclusion a number of people all went over to the Gay Liberation Front headquarters at 14th Street and 6th Avenue,” he said. That’s when he learned about the weekly meetings of the Gay Activists Alliance, which became his primary activist involvement.

Vito Russo a co-founder of ACT UP and GLAAD, told Marcus that “for the first time the organized response reached me on a gut level. And that was the following Thursday when I went to my first Gay Activists Alliance meeting.”

 

The history of the LGBT rights movement in New York City

On Feb. 29, the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, which has two entries on its website linked to event — one for the former location of the Snake Pit Bar and one for the former 6th Police Precinct Station House — honored all the men arrested that night by bringing 167 balloons to the location.

 

Click here to read the article in the New York Daily News. 

Artist Georgia O’Keeffe and Writer Patricia Highsmith Added to Project Website

November 25, 2019
By: Gabe Herman

Two former artist homes in Manhattan added to LGBT historic registry

 

Author Patricia Highsmith lived at 48 Grove St., at Bleecker Street, from 1940-42. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

 

A nonprofit added the former homes of artist Georgia O’Keeffe and author Patricia Highsmith

Two former Manhattan residences of legendary American artists have been added to a nonprofit’s registry of city sites with connections to the LGBT community that have historic social significance.

The nonprofit NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, which looks to increase awareness of extant sites with LGBT connections, and protect such sites, added the former homes of artist Georgia O’Keeffe and author Patricia Highsmith to its website.

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was famous for modern paintings of flowers, Southwest landscapes and New York skyscrapers. The nonprofit has added 525 Lexington Ave., between East 48th and 49th Streets, to its website of historic sites, based on O’Keeffe living and working there in suite 3003 at the Hotel Shelton (now the Marriott East Side) from 1925 to 1936.

The nonprofit noted that although O’Keeffe was married to the photographer and art dealer Alfred Stieglitz, she also had relationships with women throughout her life.

“Georgia O’Keeffe’s 30th-floor suite factored heavily into the artist’s work,“ said Amanda Davis, project manager for the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. “It’s especially powerful to see O’Keeffe’s paintings of her view from the Hotel Shelton, to understand the City as she perceived it from atop, then, the tallest hotel in not only Manhattan but the world.”

 

Georgia O’Keeffe lived and worked for several years at 525 Lexington Ave. (Google Maps)

 

O’Keeffe made several paintings between 1925 and 1929 that featured the building and the view from her suite. The nonprofit noted a 1928 quote from O’Keeffe about working high up in a hotel.

“I know it’s unusual for an artist to want to work way up near the roof of a big hotel, in the heart of a roaring city, but I think that’s just what the artist of today needs for stimulus,” O’Keefe said. “He has to have a place where he can behold the city as a unit before his eyes but at the same time have enough space left to work …”

Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995) wrote short stories and 22 novels, including “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “Strangers on a Train.”

The nonprofit has added 48 Grove St. in the West Village, where Highsmith lived from 1940 to 1942 while studying at Barnard College. Two of her novels, “Edith’s Diary” and “Found in the Street,” featured Grove Street in the story.

Greenwich Village would influence her later work, and Highsmith often visited the area’s piano bars and lesbian bars, according to the preservation group. Her 1952 novel “The Price of Salt” featured a lesbian romance and was based on the author’s encounter with a woman while working at Bloomingdale’s.

“Patricia Highsmith’s time at Barnard shaped her as an emerging writer, and it was there that she first started to write fiction,” said Sarah Sargent, a historic preservationist and researcher who consulted with the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project on the Highsmith and O’Keeffe sites. “Highsmith also served as editor of the Barnard Quarterly, a campus literary magazine, and it was during her junior year at Barnard that she met artist Buffie Johnson and the two had a brief romantic relationship.”

Click here to read the article in The Villager.

 

 

Manhattan Residences of Georgia O’Keeffe and Patricia Highsmith Published

20191125
By: Gabe Herman

Two former artist homes in Manhattan added to LGBT historic registry

 

Author Patricia Highsmith lived at 48 Grove St., at Bleecker Street, from 1940-42. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

 

A nonprofit added the former homes of artist Georgia O’Keeffe and author Patricia Highsmith

Two former Manhattan residences of legendary American artists have been added to a nonprofit’s registry of city sites with connections to the LGBT community that have historic social significance.

The nonprofit NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, which looks to increase awareness of extant sites with LGBT connections, and protect such sites, added the former homes of artist Georgia O’Keeffe and author Patricia Highsmith to its website.

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was famous for modern paintings of flowers, Southwest landscapes and New York skyscrapers. The nonprofit has added 525 Lexington Ave., between East 48th and 49th Streets, to its website of historic sites, based on O’Keeffe living and working there in suite 3003 at the Hotel Shelton (now the Marriott East Side) from 1925 to 1936.

The nonprofit noted that although O’Keeffe was married to the photographer and art dealer Alfred Stieglitz, she also had relationships with women throughout her life.

“Georgia O’Keeffe’s 30th-floor suite factored heavily into the artist’s work,“ said Amanda Davis, project manager for the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. “It’s especially powerful to see O’Keeffe’s paintings of her view from the Hotel Shelton, to understand the City as she perceived it from atop, then, the tallest hotel in not only Manhattan but the world.”

 

Georgia O’Keeffe lived and worked for several years at 525 Lexington Ave. (Google Maps)

 

O’Keeffe made several paintings between 1925 and 1929 that featured the building and the view from her suite. The nonprofit noted a 1928 quote from O’Keeffe about working high up in a hotel.

“I know it’s unusual for an artist to want to work way up near the roof of a big hotel, in the heart of a roaring city, but I think that’s just what the artist of today needs for stimulus,” O’Keefe said. “He has to have a place where he can behold the city as a unit before his eyes but at the same time have enough space left to work …”

Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995) wrote short stories and 22 novels, including “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “Strangers on a Train.”

The nonprofit has added 48 Grove St. in the West Village, where Highsmith lived from 1940 to 1942 while studying at Barnard College. Two of her novels, “Edith’s Diary” and “Found in the Street,” featured Grove Street in the story.

Greenwich Village would influence her later work, and Highsmith often visited the area’s piano bars and lesbian bars, according to the preservation group. Her 1952 novel “The Price of Salt” featured a lesbian romance and was based on the author’s encounter with a woman while working at Bloomingdale’s.

“Patricia Highsmith’s time at Barnard shaped her as an emerging writer, and it was there that she first started to write fiction,” said Sarah Sargent, a historic preservationist and researcher who consulted with the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project on the Highsmith and O’Keeffe sites. “Highsmith also served as editor of the Barnard Quarterly, a campus literary magazine, and it was during her junior year at Barnard that she met artist Buffie Johnson and the two had a brief romantic relationship.”

Click here to read the article in amNewYork.

 

James Baldwin Residence Officially Listed as Historic Site

20190912
By: N. Jamiyla Chisholm

The NYC row house on 137 West 71st Street is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

 

 

Anyone who’s ever read literary giant James Baldwin knows how much he loved New York City and how he championed both his Blackness and queerness. So it’s only fitting that his former home, a remodeled row house that he resided in from 1965 until his death in 1987, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project announced on Thursday (September 12).

Known as the James Baldwin Residence, the 137 West 71st Street location was nominated by the Project to be included in a National Park Service grant to increase LGBTQ+ diversity on the National Register. Facilitated by the New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), the building was listed officially on September 3, 2019. Baldwin may not have believed in using identifying labels besides Black, but he did break, then repair with civil rights activism through literature and debate, his position as a gay Black man in America.

Tax photo of 137 West 71st Street, 1964 (a year before James Baldwin bought the building).

 

“Seeing James Baldwin’s NYC residence listed on the National Register of Historic Places is the realization of our mission, in part, to increase LGBT representation on this important official inventory of sites and to formally recognize the U.S. home most closely associated with Baldwin, a pivotal voice of 20th century America,” Amanda Davis, project manager of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, said in an emailed statement. “We are delighted that our years of research into Baldwin’s connections to New York City and this home, specifically, have resulted in the site’s recognition at both the local, state, and national levels.”

On June 18, 2019, while the city was celebrating World Pride and gearing up for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the James Baldwin Residence was designated a NYC Individual Landmark by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. Baldwin’s home was one of six sites—including the Audre Lorde Residence—recognized as a result of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project’s nomination from earlier in the month.

“The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project has created a national model for recognizing the underrepresented history of LGBT New Yorkers,” said Erik Kulleseid, commissioner of parks, recreation and historic preservation. “We are truly grateful for this collaboration and congratulate the LGBT Historic Sites Project on this latest achievement of officially designating the residence of gay author, activist and New Yorker, James Baldwin, to the National Register.”

Click here to read the article in COLORLINES.

 

Other coverage:

James Baldwin’s Home Is Now a Nationally Registered Historic Place

20190916
By: Matt Baume

The designation, provided by the National Park Service, provides minor protections for the integrity of the structure.

 

Out Magazine, James Baldwin

 

The childhood home of James Baldwin is now in the National Register of Historic Places, establishing the ordinary looking building as having played a key role in the shaping of American culture. The building joins several other LGBTQ+ landmarks in New York City in receiving historic designations this year.

Built in 1890, Baldwin lived in the small four-story building at 137 West 71st Street from the mid 1960s to the late ‘80s. You’d never guess there’s anything significant about the grey, brick walk-up just from looking at it.

“Seeing James Baldwin’s NYC residence listed on the National Register of Historic Places is the realization of our mission, in part, to increase [LGBTQ+] representation on this important official inventory of sites and to formally recognize the U.S. home most closely associated with Baldwin, a pivotal voice of 20th century America,” Amanda Davis, project manager at the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, said in a statement.

Baldwin had a complicated relationship with what we would today recognize as the LGBTQ+ community. As a young man, he lived in Greenwich Village, where even in the 1930s and 40s there was an air of comparative sexual freedom. That was followed by many years in France, during which time he published his most famous novels: Go Tell It On the Mountain in 1953 and Giovanni’s Room in 1956, both of which featured gay characters.

Returning to America in the early 60s, he wrote Another Country, which touched on both same-sex and interracial relationships. Baldwin himself had experience with both, but according to the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, “he generally eschewed labels and did not self-identify as gay.”

But he did speak about homosexuality, particularly toward the end of his life.

“A man can fall in love with a man; a woman can fall in love with a woman,” Baldwin said in 1987. “There’s nothing anybody can do about it. It’s not in the province of the law. It has nothing to do with the church. And if you lie about that, you lie about everything. And no one has a right to try to tell another human being whom he or she can or should love.”

In the 71st St. building, Baldwin occupied a ground-floor apartment and housed his mother, sister, and her children on upper floors. It was a gathering place for many notable Black literary figures throughout the 70s and 80s, and Toni Morrison lived in the building for a short period.

With its designation on the National Register of Historic Places, the building gains yet another layer of recognition. Earlier this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the Upper West Side sitewould also be nominated for a listing on the state’s register, noting in a statement that “Baldwin transformed and continues to transform discussions about race and sexuality in America and abroad.”

It also enjoys local historic designation, with the Landmarks Preservation Commission designating Baldwin’s home as a NYC landmark this past June.

That came in a wave of historic recognition for LGBTQ+ landmarks in New York. The Commission also selected the Gay Activist Alliance Firehouse, which was built in the 1880s and used to organize protests by the Gay Activist Alliance in the 1970s.

Caffe Cino was also designated as a historic landmark. Another 19th-century structure, the cafe was home to experimental theater works off-off-Broadway. Also given protection was the LGBT Community Center, home to queer community events since 1983, and the Women’s Liberation Center, another former firehouse used to organize protests starting in the 1970s.

Audre Lorde’s house on Staten Island was noted as historic as well.

Click here to read the article in OUT.

 

Other coverage:

James Baldwin Just Got a Huge Shout-Out From the U.S. Government

September 12, 2019
By: Sam Manzella

The legendary writer’s NYC home is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

One of our greatest gay literary lions has received a major nod from the United States National Park Service.

Queer author and civil rights activist James Baldwin, known for his groundbreaking contributions to black and queer literature in mid-20th-century America, lived in the same Manhattan residence at 137 W. 71st St. from 1965 until his death in 1987. Now, with the support of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, Baldwin’s house has become an official listing on the U.S. government’s National Register of Historic Places.

The recognition comes after Baldwin’s house was added to the New York State Historic Register, which was approved in June 2019, also due in part to a recommendation from the Project.

 

Baldwin in his New York City apartment circa 1963.
Baldwin in his New York City apartment circa 1963.

In a press release provided to NewNowNext, Amanda Davis, project manager of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, explained how and why the group pushed the NPS to recognize Baldwin’s Manhattan residence. Davis called Baldwin a “pivotal voice of 20th-century America,” noting that the addition is the culmination of the group’s “years of research into Baldwin’s connections to New York City and this home, specifically.”

Erik Kulleseid, commissioner of the NYS Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation, also praised Baldwin’s contributions to LGBTQ history and thanked the Project for its work to highlight historic NYC spots of queer cultural value:

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project has created a national model for recognizing the underrepresented history of LGBT New Yorkers. We are truly grateful for this collaboration and congratulate the LGBT Historic Sites Project on this latest achievement of officially designating the residence of gay author, activist, and New Yorker James Baldwin to the National Register.

Ken Lustbader, co-director of the organization, told NewNowNext earlier this year that he has worked to identify and catalog places of queer cultural value in the five boroughs for about 25 years.

Lustbader’s work with the Project also helped get the famed Stonewall Inn listed on the National Register back in 1999 and the Stonewall National Monument designated in 2016.

Click here to read the article in NewNowNext.

 

Other coverage:

James Baldwin’s former Upper West Side home receives national landmark status

September 12, 2019
By: Dana Schulz

 

In June, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission designated six sites significant to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, including the former home of James Baldwin on the Upper West Side. Now, the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project tells us that the Baldwin residence at 137 West 71st Street has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, which recognizes his role nationally as relates to LGBT and civil rights history.

 

James Baldwin, 1969
James Baldwin in 1969, via Allan Warren on Wiki Commons

 

James Baldwin was born in Harlem in 1924. He became a regarded author, playwright, and civil rights activist, focusing largely on the topics of race and sexuality. He moved into a remodeled rowhouse on West 71st Street in 1965 and lived there on and off until his death in 1987, throughout which some of his family members had apartments in the building, as did Toni Morrison. Other prominent writers and musicians spent time at the residence, including Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, and Amira Baraka.

During his time there, Baldwin authored “Just Above My Head,” one of his novels that “featured gay and bisexual characters and spoke openly about same-sex relationships and LGBT issues,” according to the LGBT Sites Project. Although Baldwin himself never self-identified as gay, he did speak of his relationship with men and championed the community through his activism and writing.

“Seeing James Baldwin’s NYC residence listed on the National Register of Historic Places is the realization of our mission, in part, to increase LGBT representation on this important official inventory of sites and to formally recognize the U.S. home most closely associated with Baldwin, a pivotal voice of 20th century America,” said Amanda Davis, project manager of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, in a press release. “We are delighted that our years of research into Baldwin’s connections to New York City and this home, specifically, have resulted in the site’s recognition at both the local, state, and national levels.”

Prior to living on the Upper West Side, Baldwin resided in Greenwich Village at 81 Horatio Street from 1958 to 1963. In 2015, Village Preservation unveiled a historic plaque on the building to commemorate him.

Click here to read the article in 6sqft.

 

Other coverage:

 

HARLEM WEEK 2019: Mapping gay history in Harlem and beyond

August 16, 2019
By: Jared McCallister

Walls of Jericho Frieze

The 1941 8-foot by 80-foot “Green Pastures: The Walls of Jericho” frieze by African-American Harlem Renaissance sculptor Richmond Barthé. (Ken Lustbader/NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, 2018)

Before millions recently celebrated and reflected on the Stonewall Inn uprising and its motivation for the battle for gay rights, the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project was mapping the history of the movement — including contributions from Harlem and the city’s African-American community.

Featured historic locations in the website’s “Influential Black New Yorkers” and “Harlem Renaissance” sections are the former residences of singer Ethel Waters, jazz great Billy Strayhorn and literary giants Langston Hughes, Lorraine Hansberry and James Baldwin.

Among the site’s Harlem highlights are:

  • Openly gay archivist and historian Alexander Gumby’s Harlem Renaissance-era Gumby Book Studio, on the second floor of a Fifth Ave. rowhouse uptown.
  • The Countee Cullen Branch of the New York Public Library, named for the prominent gay poet Cullen. It’s the first New York Public Library system branch to be named for an African-American, according to the project.

The historic sites, which are located throughout the five boroughs, include:

  • A Staten Island house on St. Paul’s Ave. where lesbian writer/activist Audre Lorde lived with her partner and two children for 15 years.
  • The 8-by-80-foot “Green Pastures: The Walls of Jericho” — by Harlem Renaissance sculptor Richmond Barthé — which was placed at the city’s Kingsborough Houses in 1941.

These locations are just four of more than 200 sites highlighted in the project.

Under the theme, “Making an invisible history visible,” the project has been shining a spotlight on historic and cultural sites linked to the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to show what its creators call “the richness of the city’s LGBT history and the community’s influence on America.”

“These curated themes help us highlight the significant contributions that LGBT people of color have made to our city’s and country’s collective history, from important cultural movements such as the Harlem Renaissance to the arts, literature, and activism,” said project manager Amanda Davis.

“So much of what was learned in the fight for LGBT equality was based on the model set by the black civil rights movement, and it’s been eye-opening to see just how much of an influence LGBT New Yorkers of color have had on both fronts she said, adding that the project is “ongoing and growing.”

“We’re continuing to document LGBT sites throughout the city’s five boroughs with the goal of increasing diversity in our entries, writing new National Register of Historic Places nominations, conducting public outreach, etc.. said Davis, noting that donations help fund the initiative.

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is an initiative of the Fund for the City of New York’s Partner Program.

Started in 2015, the project — a scholarly initiative designed to be an educational resource — follows in the footsteps of the nation’s first map for LGBT historic sites, created in 1994 by the Organization of Lesbian and Gay Architects + Designers.

And the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is based on more than a quarter-century of research by its directors – Andrew Dolkart, architectural historian and a Columbia University professor, historic preservation consultant Ken Lustbader and former city Landmarks Preservation Commission senior historian Jay Shockley.

There many ways to search the website — by borough, decade, neighborhood and other categories. The locations include educational institutions, medical facilities, community spaces, performance venues and businesses.

And the initiative is ongoing. According to project representatives, additional sites for the project are being sought, including “activist demonstration and meeting locations, performance venues, former residences of notable people, works of public art and architecture, medical facilities associated with the AIDS crisis, and important social centers such as community spaces and bars, clubs, and restaurants.”

To help fund the not-for-profit effort, donations can be made on the project’s website.

Visit the project at www.nyclgbtsites.org to get information or make donations.

Checks — made payable to the Fund for the City of New York, with “NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project” written on them — can be mailed to: Fund for the City of New York, 121 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y. 10013. All donations are fully tax-deductible, and company matching-gift programs terms may apply.

Six significant LGBTQ sites in New York City are landmarked

June 18, 2019
By: Devin Gannon

 

LGBT sites 6sqft
Top, left to right: GAA Firehouse, James Baldwin Residence, LGBT Community Center; Bottom, left to right: Audre Lorde Residence, Women’s Liberation Center, Caffe Cino; Photos courtesy of NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

Six sites significant to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community of New York City officially became city landmarks on Tuesday. The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse, the Women’s Liberation Center, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, Caffe Cino, James Baldwin’s Upper West Side home, and the Staten Island home of Audre Lorde. The designations coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, as well as the city’s first time hosting WorldPride.

LPC Chair Sarah Carroll on Tuesday said she was proud of the designations. “These six new individual landmarks build on our designation of the Stonewall Inn by recognizing some of the foundational locations for LGBT activism in the second half of the 20th century, important groups who fought for equality and provided support, and acclaimed African-American authors and activists whose published works have been inspirational to many people and whose legacy resonates today.”

The sites were proposed for landmark status based on recommendations by the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project during a meeting earlier this year with the commission and a representative from City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s office.

“New York City played such an important role in moving the LGBTQ civil rights movement forward and we owe it to those who fought in this movement to ensure that their legacy lives on,” Johnson said in a statement. “These sites memorialize the diversity and intersectionality of the LGBTQ rights movement and will make excellent additions to the city’s amazing list of landmarks.”

Two buildings in Greenwich Village were designated, including Caffe Cino, the first Off-Off-Broadway theater that became a safe haven for gay performers, and the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse on Wooster Street, which served as a meeting space for the LGBT community following the Stonewall uprising.

“On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which also occurred in Greenwich Village, we should be reflecting back upon that history of progress and honoring the people and places which made it possible,” Andrew Berman, the executive director of Village Preservation, said in a statement.

“We will continue to fight for the recognition and preservation of the history of the LGBT community and other marginalized and underrepresented communities which have often found a home and support in our neighborhoods — it’s one of the aspects of our neighborhoods’ history of which we are most proud.”

The LPC also landmarked the Anglo-Italianate former firehouse on West 20th Street which housed the Women’s Liberation Center from 1972 to 1987 and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center on West 13th Street. And two residences of notable LGBT New Yorkers made the cut: James Baldwin’s Upper West Side house and Audre Lorde’s home on Staten Island. As 6sqft reported on Monday, the New York State Board for Historic Preservation recommended 18 properties be added to the State and National Registers of Historic Places, including Baldwin’s home at 137 West 71st Street.

“We hope that these designations, based in part on our recommendations to the Commission, will be a model not only for continuing recognition in New York City, but for designations across the country beyond Stonewall 50 celebrations,” Andrew Dolkart, co-director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, said in a statement.

Historic LGBTQ Sites to See During Pride in NYC

June 12, 2019
By: Melissa Kravitz

 

Stonewall Inn
The Stonewall Inn | Brian/Flickr

“LGBTQ history is American history,” says Ken Lustbader, co-Director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. Together with his co-founders (and one paid employee), these preservationists and historians identify and document the spaces and places where LGBTQ people made significant contributions to New York City and the nation as a whole. “We’re looking at NYC through [an] LGBTQ lens and making this invisible history visible by conveying the rich history of LGBTQ people in NYC,” Lustbader says.

The organization has nearly 200 New York City historical sites listed on its website, with an aim to develop the most comprehensive LGBTQ cultural map in New York City, or any city in America. The sites include the obvious, like The Stonewall Inn, where the namesake riots started in 1969, and the broad, like “the entire Theater District,” as Lustbader says.

The endeavor reaches all corners of the city, spotlighting Flushing Meadow Park, where openly gay architect Philip Johnson designed the New York State Pavilion for the 1964 World’s Fair, and the 19th Century Bronx home of Christine Jorgensen, where she made headlines after her sex reassignment surgery. Prominent LGBTQ people have been marginalized from mainstream history, but Lustbader and his “passion project” colleagues are working to change that.

Still, there are shortcomings: Racial discrimination often prevented LGBTQ people of color from gaining capital to open bars and restaurants, and many important sites, like those of pivotal to 1980s ball culture, have disappeared due to gentrification. Lustbader and his co-directors are working to uncover underrepresented narratives and better include people of color in their preservation efforts.

The team is also preparing an app and visiting local classrooms to, “educate the next generation that LGBTQ Americans have really contributed to society, politics, art, literature and the general health of our country,” Lustbader says.

With the project’s resources and walking tours, any New Yorker can dip into queer history at LGBTQ heritage sites citywide. Here are a few to start with:

 

The Stonewall Inn

Greenwich Village

 

Yep, this is the bar known for the historic June 1969 riots, when queer activists fought back against discriminatory police raids. Lustbader says that it’s important for visitors to realize that this is not the “birthplace of the modern liberation movement,” and calling it such can minimize the previous activism led to that pivotal night. Recognizing this and what preceded this turning point, and understanding the streets where all the action took place is a huge part of comprehending LGBTQ history.

 

 

Julius' Bar
Courtesy of Julius’

Julius’

West Village

 

One of New York City’s longest-standing gay bars, this is a second home to LGBTQ people eager to dig into a burger or share a few drinks with newfound friends. While the interiors have historic charm — the building dates back to 1826 and housed a grocery store before it was converted to a bar in 1864 — its power is derived from the history of the people who supported it along the way. Julius’ survived as a speakeasy during Prohibition, and began attracting a gay clientele in the decades that followed. In April 1966 (pre-Stonewall), it sparked a “sip in,” to fight a New York State Liquor Authority regulation prohibiting bars and restaurants from serving homosexuals.

Julio Rivera Corner

Jackson Heights

 

A solemn place to visit, this site memorializes Julio Rivera, a gay New Yorker who was murdered by three skinheads in 1990. The tragedy helped generate political movement, especially in Queens, for LGBTQ visibility and fight against discrimination.

 

Theater district
Times Square | Manu Padilla/Shutterstock

Theater District

Midtown West

 

While sites like Stonewall are famously important to America’s queer history, others may be more subtle. Lustbader recommends looking at the Times Square area through a new lens, to comprehend the massive role LGBTQ people (whether out or not) have had Broadway and theater culture. “It’s amazing to be able to understand that so many theaters have such a rich LGBT overlay,” he says.

 

Edna St. Vincent Millay Residence

West Village

 

The narrowest house in Manhattan is worth a visit for history buffs and architecture fanatics alike. Bisexual poet Edna St. Vincent Millay lived here from 1923-1925, writing in cramped quarters decades before creatives could toil in the relative comfort of WeWork spaces. The townhouse sold for $3.25 million in 2013, and the backyard garden (private access only, sorry) is #goals.

 

The Ranble
The Ramble | Ryan DeBerardinis/Shutterstock

The Ramble

Central Park

It’s easy to take the beautiful oasis in the middle of Manhattan at face value: Nice grass, few garbage heaps, plenty of room for outdoor imbibing. But the green acreage also had deep significance to gay New Yorkers and visitors throughout the 19th Century. The Ramble was a well-known cruising spot, and the city’s early Gay Pride Marches ventured from Christopher Street to Central Park.

Audre Lorde Residence

Staten Island

 

Black lesbian writer and activist Audre Lorde lived here with her partner and two children from 1972 to 1987. Here, she worked on various books and poems, and also co-founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press with black lesbian feminist Barbara Smith.

 

Alice Austen House
Alice Austen House Museum

Alice Austen House

Staten Island

 

This picturesque historic Dutch farmhouse (built in 1690) was home to photographer Alice Austen and her partner, Gertrude Tate in the early 19th Century. A National Historic Landmark since 1993, it now showcases Austen’s work, hosts weddings and opens its picturesque grounds to visitors. And at $5 a pop, it may be the most reasonable museum admission in all of New York.

 

Albatross barAlbatross barAlbatross barAlbatross barAlbatross barAlbatross barAlbatross barAlbatross barAlbatross barAlbatross barAlbatross barAlbatross barAlbatross barAlbatross bar
Courtesy of Albatross

Albatross Bar

Astoria

 

The oldest gay bar in Queens, the old guard may remember this dive right off Astoria Boulevard as a lesbian bar, while recent regulars will know it as a straight up queer bar with Drag Race viewing parties and live drag queen performances. Albatross is full of lore, and frequently packed with locals and regulars vying to ensure its continued success.

 

Preserving Walt Whitman’s Clinton Hill house: Poet’s 200th birthday improves odds

May 9, 2019
By: Lore Croghan

 

Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman, the Brooklyn Eagle’s editor in the 1840s, is widely considered America’s greatest poet. Enhanced image by Great Bridge Associates

Ahead of two important cultural milestones, preservationists are renewing a stalled effort to landmark the Clinton Hill home where famed Brooklyn poet Walt Whitman wrote “Leaves of Grass” — despite opposition from the property’s owner.

The Coalition to Save Walt Whitman’s House is demanding landmark designation for 99 Ryerson St. as Whitman’s 200th birthday and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots approach. Landmarking has eluded the property for years, though new support from local elected officials, as well as the publicity bonanza expected around the two anniversaries, could help secure historic protections.

Walt Whitman published his first edition of his ground-breaking poetry collection “Leaves of Grass” while living in the modest Clinton Hill building.

“It is the center, the desk, of the great gay American of Letters,” Professor Karen Karbiener, president of the Walt Whitman Initiative, told the Brooklyn Eagle. “He is our poet who first represented, 100 years before Stonewall, not only the idea of celebrating difference but even imagining a community.”

A team of preservation experts and the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project are members of the Coalition to Save Walt Whitman’s House, as is the Walt Whitman Initiative. More than 5,400 people have signed its petition calling for 99 Ryerson St.’s landmarking.

Whitman, who is widely considered America’s greatest poet, was born on May 31, 1819, and died in 1892. He was the editor of the Eagle in the 1840s.

He lived in more than 30 places in Brooklyn and Manhattan. The only one still standing is Leaves of Grass House, which is the coalition’s name for 99 Ryerson St.

LGBTQ+ historic site

Walt Whitman home at 99 Ryerson Street, Brooklyn
Walt Whitman lived at 99 Ryerson St., which is the second house from the left. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

As a cultural landmark, the aluminum siding-covered house at 99 Ryerson St. is Brooklyn’s equivalent of the legendary gay bar The Stonewall Inn, the advocates say.

In 2017, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected the Whitman coalition’s first proposal to put 99 Ryerson St. onto the commission’s calendar for landmarking consideration. The agency cited architectural alterations to the house since Whitman’s day, such as the addition of a floor and modern siding.

Leaves of Grass House’s roles in the city’s literary history and the history of LGBTQ+ New York are more significant than its architectural features, Karbiener believes.

The wood-frame house built in the 1850s “is not beautiful,” admits Karbiener, who is a Whitman scholar and a New York University professor. But, she says, “it is a cultural landmark and should be designated.”

In 2015 the LPC designated the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village as a city landmark primarily because of its significance in LGBTQ+ history, the New York Times reported. The bar was the scene of the 1969 riots that launched the LGBTQ+ rights movement.

According to a posting on the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project’s website, Whitman poems that expressed “male-male love” made him “iconic in the United States and Europe as one of the first people to openly express the concept of men loving men.”

The Ryerson Street house is one of the oldest existing New York City buildings associated with someone who would now be considered an LGBTQ+ resident, the website says. Whitman, four of his brothers and his parents lived there between May 1, 1855, and May 1, 1856. His father died there.

The ‘holy grail’ for Whitman’s fans

Karen Karbiener
Professor Karen Karbiener is president of the Walt Whitman Initiative, which is trying to get his Clinton Hill house designated as a landmark. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Karbiener fears for the future of Leaves of Grass House if it’s not landmarked.

“It could be torn down and a spindly tower built in its place,” she said. “And history would be erased.”

She used to take people inside 99 Ryerson St. during walking tours she leads of sites important to Whitman’s life.

“It’s like the holy grail,” she said.

A man she thought was 99 Ryerson St.’s owner would sometimes be sitting on the stoop. He would graciously open the door and let everybody step inside the threshold.

“He was very kind,” Karbiener recalled. “It meant there was a continued spirit of goodwill in the building,” from Whitman’s era to the present day.

She wasn’t worried then about getting the house landmarked because “it had such a good caretaker,” she said.

In 2014, Karbiener stopped seeing the kind man at 99 Ryerson St. Nobody has let her inside the house since then.

Owners don’t support landmarking

According to city Finance Department records, the Horacio Downs Living Trust owns 99 Ryerson St.

Horacio Downs bought the house with Imogene Downs in 1970 and became its sole owner in 1987, Finance Department records indicate. He transferred the property’s ownership to the trust in 2009.

The Eagle left messages for the trust through contact info listed in Finance Department records, rang doorbells at 99 Ryerson St. and dropped a note for the owners through the mail slot. There was no response.

Whitman coalition members have been unable to win the property owners’ support for landmarking 99 Ryerson St.

They tried repeatedly to contact Glenda Downs, Walt Whitman Initiative board member Brad Vogel told the Eagle. Downs’ name is listed in the public record in connection with the Horacio Downs Living Trust.

A different woman responded to their queries by saying the property owners planned to tell the Landmarks Preservation Commission they prefer 99 Ryerson St. not be landmarked.

The Eagle attempted to reach her but was unsuccessful.

‘Great art can begin from the streets’

The LPC takes property owners’ opposition into account when making designation decisions — but has landmarked buildings whose owners were opposed.

It’s helpful to have the support of the City Councilmember who represents the district where a landmarking candidate is located. In the case of 99 Ryerson St., that’s Laurie Cumbo.

Last year, she signed a letter calling for the house to be landmarked that emphasized its significance to the LGBTQ+ community, the Eagle previously reported. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and several other councilmembers also signed the letter.

Karbiener said in her recent interview with the Eagle that 99 Ryerson St. was built for the working class. It’s where Whitman — who was born into a family plagued by alcoholism and mental illness and who dropped out of school at age 11 — began writing poetry of enormous literary merit.

“Standing in front of the house is refreshing,” Karbiener said. “You see that great art can begin from the streets of New York.”

Click here to read the article in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

6 New York City LGBTQ landmarks might be created to keep the city’s queer history alive

May 17, 2019
By: Melissa Kravitz

 

Rainbow flag

On June 24, 2016, President Obama declared The Stonewall Inn a national monument, nearly five decades after the Stonewall Uprising of June 1969. In doing so, the famed New York City bar became the first LGBTQ-focused national landmark in America. “I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country, the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us,” Obama said in a White House statement at the time. “That we are stronger together. That out of many, we are one.” Now, New York City preservationists are following in the president’s footsteps, putting six historic LGBTQ sites up for official landmark protection status this May.

While LGBTQ people have undeniably characterized American history, from Stonewall activist Marsha P Johnson to California politician Harvey Milk to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, The Stonewall Inn is currently the only official national monument celebrating the LGBTQ community. With no others seemingly in the queue, it’s up to historians and city committees to protect queer heritage, as NYC is trying to do. The city already gave Stonewall landmark status in 2015 (separate from its national designation a year later), and this month, six more sites — the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Community Center and Caffe Cino, both in the West Village; the James Baldwin Residence on the Upper West Side; the Women’s Liberation Center in Chelsea; the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse in SoHo; and the Audre Lorde Residence on Staten Island — will be reviewed by New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission for consideration.

Landmark status, as well as national monument status, is essential in preserving history, as it keeps the space from being torn down or replaced. When a building is landmarked, it allows future generations to viscerally understand the place where major events happened, and see the historic and cultural contributions left on society by individuals before them. This designation is especially important for places influential in shaping civil rights, as many LGBTQ activists and events are often not written about in textbooks or major media. Landmarking queer spaces not only protects the buildings, but informs the world about LGBTQ history and legacy they might otherwise never know about.

Recently, New York has pushed for more focus on its queer history, with the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, a scholarly effort to record and preserve history of buildings relevant to LGBTQ history and culture, finding over 100 sites that deserve preservation. The organization believes these venues should be protected either by NYC itself or the United States government, and it’s pushed for an increase in LGBTQ representation on the National Register of Historic Places, i.e. the service that determines national monuments. To date, the National Park Service has noted 25 sites with prominent contributions to the nation’s LGBTQ heritage, though it’s unknown yet if any are actually likely to become monuments.

Across America, several major cities are home to LGBTQ memorials, like St. Louis’ Transgender Memorial Garden, San Francisco’s Pink Triangle Park, and Indianapolis’ AIDS Memorial, but efforts to preserve other relics of LGBTQ history — including both monuments and museums — around the country are still quite rare. This is unfortunately no surprise, as queer history has been systematically devalued and ignored in America for generations.

Yet organizations like the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, as well as the Velvet Foundation (which has been trying to fund America’s first National LGBT Museum since 2007), the Los Angeles Conservancy, and the Rainbow Heritage Network, are working to keep queer history alive. In New York, public hearings and a vote are required to officially landmark sites, and so on Tuesday, May 21, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will decide if they’ll move forward with the process for the six sites up for the status.

Without protection, these historic LGBTQ places, like too many sites before them (including NYC’s Paradise Garage, an organizing space pivotal to the aftermath of Stonewall), may get torn down and forgotten by the masses, their history and legacy erased.

 

 

These Six NYC LGBTQ Historical Sites Are Being Considered for Landmark Designation

May 15, 2019
By: Jeff Taylor

They include the residences of Audre Lorde and James Baldwin, as well as early meeting places for the community.

Six sites with LGBTQ and American historical significance are up for consideration for possible landmark designation in New York City.

The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission will consider the following locations for the designation, which would protect the buildings from being demolished or having their exteriors substantially altered: The Audre Lorde Residence, on Staten Island; the James Baldwin Residence, on the Upper West Side; Women’s Liberation Center, in Chelsea; Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse, in SoHo; plus Caffe Cino, and The LGBT Community Center—both in Greenwich Village.

Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde

Lorde, a lesbian writer and civil rights activist, lived at 207 St. Paul’s Avenue, where she authored books, carried out organizing work, and launched a feminist press, called Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press.

James Baldwin
James Baldwin

Fellow writer and civil rights activist James Baldwin lived at 137 West 71st Street from the mid-1960s onward, while splitting his time between there and France. It was in this building “where he worked on plays, screenplays and novels and corresponded with other prominent literary and cultural figures,” as the landmarks commission notes, according to The New York Times.

The Women’s Liberation Center was a meeting and organizing space that operated at 243 West 20th Street from 1972 to 1987.

The Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) was formed in December 1969, in the wake of the Stonewall riots, as a radical, non-assimilationist, inclusive LGBTQ liberation collective. The group met at a firehouse in SoHo, at 99 Wooster Street, from 1971 to 1974, which also served as an essential LGBTQ community center during those years.

GAA in a parade
Yigal Mann/Pix/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Caffe Cino was located at 31 Cornelia Street, and is credited with birthing Off-Off Broadway, and giving LGBTQ playwrights a place to stage productions of works that at times went against laws making it illegal to depict homosexuality onstage.

The LGBT Community Center is still at 208 West 13th Street, continuing its mission of offering support services to LGBTQ people, which it began in 1983. It is notable for having been essential to the founding of ACT UP, GLAAD, Las Buenas Amigas, Queer Nation, and the Lesbian Avengers. It also served as the meeting place for the Metropolitan Community Church of New York, as well as SAGE.

“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, in a statement.

“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 NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project has been researching LGBTQ historical sites for more than two decades, and advocating for recognition and protection of these places, with nearly 200 entries published online, at nyclgbtsites.org.

“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,” said NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project co-director Ken Lustbader.

The six sites detailed above have been calendared by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission for public hearing on June 4.

Click here to read the article at New Now Next.

 

Historic LGBTQ sites may be designated NYC landmarks

May 15, 2019
By: Gwen Aviles

The six sites include the Audre Lorde Residence in Staten Island and The LGBT Community Center in Manhattan’s West Village neighborhood.

LGBTQ Center in Greenwich Village
New York City’s LGBT Community Center has served as a hub for the community since 1983. Travis Mark / The LGBT Community Center

As the 50th anniversary of the seminal Stonewall uprising approaches, New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission is considering designating as landmarks six sites that reflect the historical significance of the city’s LGBTQ community.

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

“These six proposed landmarks recognize groups and individuals that helped move forward the LGBT civil rights movement by creating political and community support structures, and by bringing LGBT cultural expression into the public realm,” Sarah Carroll, the chairwoman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, said in a statement shared with NBC News. “These sites are tangible connections to this important New York City history.”

Audre Lorde
Caribbean-American writer, poet and activist Audre Lorde lectures students at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, in 1983. Robert Alexander / Getty Images

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, an organization dedicated to documenting buildings tied to influential LGBTQ trailblazers across the five boroughs, curated a list of more than 200 sites in an initiative titled “Historic Context Statement for LGBT History in New York City.” The organization sent a truncated version of this list to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which then, along with New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, identified the six places now picked for possible landmark designation, according to Ken Lustbader, co-director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

“We worked to ensure that the sites reflected the totality of New York City’s LGBT community, that it represents the diversity of people and time periods,” Lustbader told NBC News. “We hope these sites represent the beginning of continued recognition of LGBT sites as significant to New York City and American history.”

The Audre Lorde Residence on St. Paul’s Avenue in Staten Island was home to acclaimed writer, professor, activist and black lesbian feminist Audre Lorde from 1972 to 1987. Lorde, who lived in the home with her partner and two children, often worked in the house’s study and wrote numerous books there, including “Coal,” “The Cancer Journals” and “Zami: A New Spelling of My Name.”

Cafe Cino on Cornelia Street in Manhattan’s West Village neighborhood is “widely recognized as the birthplace of Off-Off-Broadway theater,” according to the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. Joe Cino rented a ground-story space in the building in 1958, intending to run a small coffeehouse. Yet soon enough, patrons began staging avant-garde performances there. Caffe Cino became known for elevating the works of unknown playwrights, including William M. Hoffman, who credits his career to the space. Many of Caffe Cino’s early productions featured gay characters and LGBTQ issues, and as a result, the space became a haven for gay men. Caffe Cino closed in 1968, a year after Cino’s death.

New York City’s LGBT Community Center has served as a hub for the community since 1983. Located in the West Village of Manhattan, the center is the birthplace of The Gender Identity Project, which is the longest running provider for transgender and gender-nonconforming people in the state. The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), Dignity/New York and more than 400 other organizations have gathered in the center for meetings since it first opened its doors.

James Baldwin
Author James Baldwin Ted Thai / The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty

The James Baldwin Residence on Manhattan’s Upper West Side served as the iconic writer’s home from 1965 until his death in 1987. Though the civil rights activist and literary intellectual did not self-identify as gay, he spoke openly about LGBTQ issues and wrote several novels that featured gay and bisexual characters, including “Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone” (1968) and “Just Above My Head” (1979), which were published while he lived in the 71st Street residence.

Founded in the 1970s, the Women’s Liberation Center was an integral meeting space for women’s groups, including several that specifically focused on the city’s lesbian community. The Lesbian Feminist Liberation, a group that sought to ensure lesbians were visible and heard at political and pride marches, and Lesbian Switchboard, a volunteer-led counseling hotline, were two of the many groups that met in the center. The Women’s Liberation Center closed in 1997.

The Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse, a firehouse in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, served as the headquarters for the Gay Activists Alliance from 1971 to 1974. The group was considered the most influential American gay political activist organization in the early 1970s. The firehouse also brought together other LGBTQ groups, such as Gay Youth, the Lesbian Feminist Liberation and Gay Men’s Health Project, for social events.

The commission granted the Stonewall Inn, the Greenwich Village gay bar where the seminal 1969 Stonewall uprising took place, landmark status in 2015. Yet, Lustbader said that beyond Stonewall — which is the only LGBTQ space to hold landmark status — and these six sites, there are a host of other places integral to preserving the LGBTQ history of New York City .

“There are many other NYC sites that should be considered for formal designation as cultural landmarks,” Lustbader said, citing Walt Whitman’s residence in Brooklyn as an example.

“LGBT historical landmarks give the community a sense of pride, a sense of hope and a sense of continuity,” Lustbader said. “They serve as a reminder that LGBT history is just as important as other history.”

Click here to read the article at NBC News.

Project has led in preserving L.G.B.T. sites

May 26, 2019
By: Gabe Herman

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is a young organization, headed by veteran preservationists, that is having a big impact in protecting local L.G.B.T. sites, plus increasing awareness of the community’s importance to the city and country.

NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project team
Members of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, from left, Jay Shockley, Andrew Dolkart, Amanda Davis and Ken Lustbader. (Courtesy Jay Shockley)

The Project’s Web site has mapped 175 historical and cultural sites in the five boroughs that are associated with the L.G.B.T. community. Shockley said they plan to increase that soon to 200, and are working on documenting every Broadway theater with connections to the community.

“Our project virtually is the history of New York City, but done through an L.G.B.T. lens,” Shockley said. Sites date back to the 17th century, and go up to as recent as 2000. In keeping with the preservationist spirit, only sites still in existence are mapped.

Shockley said the L.G.B.T. community has had an outsized impact on American history and culture, but that some friends and colleagues of the project’s founders didn’t understand their mission at first.

“Even within the gay community, there was this self-imposed myth that there was no history prior to Stonewall,” Shockley said.

Some people they knew also questioned whether there were important sites beyond gay bars.

“We had to destroy those two myths,” he said.

The Project launched with the first-ever L.G.B.T. grant from the National Park Service, for $50,000, from the agency’s Underrepresented Community Grant Program.

Some of the categories of sites that the Project maps include performance venues, medical facilities, residences, public spaces and cultural and educational institutions.

And the Project was instrumental in recently getting six L.G.B.T. historic sites calendared by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. The hearing is set for June, which is also the 50thanniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

Those six sites include Caffe Cino and the L.G.B.T. Community Center in the Village, the Women’s Liberation Center in Chelsea, and the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse in Soho.

“We are thrilled that our research was a catalyst for the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s review of cultural landmarks, which highlight the rich L.G.B.T. history of New York City,” said Dolkart in a statement when the six sites were calendared. “We met with the commission’s chairperson, Sarah Carroll, and her staff to discuss how important L.G.B.T.-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.”

Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village
The Stonewall Inn, which was designated a national monument in 2016. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

The roots of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project go back to the early 1990s, according to Shockley. The group’s founders were involved in 1993 in a mapping project with the Organization of Lesbian and Gay Architects and Designers, or OLGAD. A networking group, it was one of the first efforts by gay people to connect professionally, Shockley said.

The map was the first L.G.B.T. site-based history project in America, and half of the sites were in the Village.

“We were the first people in the Unites States to connect the fact that the L.G.B.T. community had history,” Shockley said.

Shockley worked at L.P.C. for more than 35 years, where he started to incorporate L.G.B.T history into designation reports, many of them concerning Village locations.

In 1994, there was a push to landmark the Stonewall Inn on the riots’ 25th anniversary. But the attempt didn’t succeed until five years later, when Shockley and Dolkart were lead authors in the Stonewall nomination.

The Stonewall Inn was declared a national monument in 2016.

“Everything from Stonewall came from people in our project,” Shockley said. “Obama didn’t wave a magic wand when it became a national monument. We did the groundwork.”

And the Project’s work continues, as it has been recognized with preservation awards. The organization was given the New York State Historic Preservation Award last November, and in 2019 the Excellence in Historic Preservation Award from the Preservation League of New York State.

Shockley acknowledged the magnitude of the Project trying to map so many sites related to the L.G.B.T. community, especially because there isn’t just a single topic on which to focus.

“Our community has impacted everything that has ever happened in this city,” he said.

Click here to read the article in The Villager.

A Gay Theater and James Baldwin’s N.Y. Apartment May Get Landmark Protection

May 15, 2019
By: James Barron

The landmarks commission will consider giving landmark status to six buildings based on their historical, not architectural, significance.

A building that houses the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in Manhattan is one of six sites being considered for landmark status for their role in gay history in New York. Credit: Holly Pickett for The New York Times

All six played a critical role in the gay rights movement. One was a storefront restaurant that New York City officials described as the city’s first gay theater and the place where Off Off Broadway got its start. Another was home to a number of lesbian and feminist groups in the 1970s and 1980s.

Now, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission is moving toward considering landmark status for the six sites.

The agency was born in the 1960s in response to the anger over the demolition of the old Pennsylvania Station, which the novelist Thomas Wolfe described as “vast enough to hold the sound of time.”

Since then, the commission has conferred landmark status on individual buildings and on neighborhoods based mainly on architectural significance and historical merit.

But over the years the commission has also granted landmark protection based on historical or cultural significance.

The six places under consideration do not include the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village bar and the site of a major turning point in the gay rights movement, because it has already been recognized. The commission gave it landmark status in 2015 because of its significance in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history. In 2016, then-President Barack Obama designated the building and the area around it the Stonewall National Monument.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising and the World Pride celebration will come to New York City for the first time.

Five of the six landmarks-to-be are already in designated historic districts, so the protection afforded by landmark status would be new for only one. But Sarah Carroll, the chairwoman of the landmarks commission, said the new designations would add “an extra layer of protection” if future owners sought permission for exterior changes.

The city is also weighing giving landmark protection to the home of the writer and civil rights activist James Baldwin. Credit: Holly Pickett for The New York Times

“We wanted to explicitly recognize the association with LGBT history,” she said. “In most cases, the designation of the historic districts in which the buildings already exist did not recognize this history.”

Since its start, the commission has expanded its mandate toward recognizing buildings for what happened in them, not just their presence on the landscape, with a number of other designations, among them Louis Armstrong’s house in Queens, a landmark since 1988.

A year ago, the commission created a historic district in Harlem, citing the “rich social, cultural and political life” that went on there as well as the architecture. It includes the home of the ragtime composer Scott Joplin and the national headquarters for the March on Washington in 1965.

The six most recent sites were chosen based on their contribution to gay history. Recognizing more than architecture “is really important,” said Andrew S. Dolkart, co-director of the LGBT Historic Sites Project, which recommended sites for the LGBT designations.

“In general, it’s really important that preservation move beyond just works of architecture, not to denigrate that — I’m an architectural historian,” he said, adding, “We really need to recognize places of cultural and historical significance.”

Giving the six buildings landmark status would put documentation about them in the commission’s files that would be taken into account if owners sought to make changes to the outside, Ms. Carroll said. That information, she said, “would guide our thinking” and could prove especially important for facades that “might not have been seen as typical or traditional in that particular historic district.”

She said that could be a concern for one of the six buildings, at 137 West 71st Street. It was the New York home of the writer and civil rights activist James Baldwin from the mid-1960s on.

Mr. Baldwin photographed in his apartment in 1972. Credit: Jack Manning/The New York Times

For years he mainly lived in France and died at his home there in 1987.

But he described himself as a “commuter,” not an expatriate. The landmarks commission noted that he kept an apartment in the 71st Street building “where he worked on plays, screenplays and novels and corresponded with other prominent literary and cultural figures” when he was in New York. His niece Aisha Karefa-Smart wrote in 2013 that the building’s “energy and vitality” surged “to a fever pitch as soon as he hit the door.”

The building was built as one in a line of four rowhouses in 1890 but was altered in 1961. The original facade was stripped off, replaced with light-colored brick. Stairs leading to the parlor-floor entrance were demolished, the front door was moved down to the street level and glass-brick windows were installed next to it.

Baldwin bought it in 1965. His family sold the building in 1994, according to the current owner, Romeo Salta, who said he was “ambivalent” about a landmark designation.

“Quite frankly, we were contemplating, not in the immediate future but sometime down the line, fixing up the facade because in my opinion, it’s not a very good-looking building,” Mr. Salta said.

“I’ve got no problem with honoring Mr. Baldwin,” he said, but added, “I think there are other ways of honoring Mr. Baldwin short of declaring his old building a landmark because it has no architectural merit at all.”

The commission described another of the six buildings as the birthplace of Off Off Broadway, a four-story tenement-and-store building at 31 Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village.

From 1958 to 1968, the store space was occupied by a restaurant called Caffe Cino. At the time, the commission’s staff noted in a report on the building, “portraying homosexuality in theatrical productions was illegal,” but Caffe Cino “became a center for gay artists to share their work” as the city’s first gay theater.

Playwrights who got their start there included John Guare, who later wrote “Six Degrees of Separation,” and Lanford Wilson, who wrote “Fifth of July,’’ according to the commission.

It is in the Greenwich Village Historic District, just as the Baldwin House is in a historic district on the Upper West Side.

The building on West 20th Street in Manhattan was once home to the Women’s Liberation Center. Credit: Holly Pickett for The New York Times

The one building not within the boundaries of a historic district is a former firehouse once known as the women’s liberation center. The building, at 243 West 20th Street, is still owned by the city and is now rented to a group that trains women for construction and maintenance work.

Ms. Carroll said she and members of the commission’s staff worked with the City Council speaker, Corey Johnson, and the New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project. She said Mr. Johnson did not suggest specific sites, but he said through a spokesman that the choices “will make excellent additions” to the roster of landmarks.

The commission will decide on Tuesday whether to begin the formal process of landmarking the sites, including holding public hearings and, eventually, votes on official designation.

Simeon Bankoff, the executive director of the Historic District Council, a preservation group, called the six potential designations “a terrific step forward to recognizing unrecognized history.” But he and William Dobbs, a historically minded advocate, said they wished the commission would designate more landmarks of significance in the gay rights movement.

Mr. Dobbs mentioned a building on the corner of 14th Street and the Avenue of the Americas that was the meeting place of the Gay Liberation Front, the first activist organization formed after the Stonewall rebellion. That building has been sold to a developer and is being demolished.

“The story of these landmarks is they get torn down,” he said. “It’s especially painful because there aren’t very many LGBT landmarks.”

Click here to read the article on The New York Times

Project Consults on Upcoming Exhibition Highlighting LGBTQ Nightlife and Activism

May 5, 2019
By: Muri Assunção

 

 

Nobody knows who threw the first punch, or cocktail glass, high-heel shoe, or beer bottle that sparked the Stonewall Riots, a series of protests seen as the catalyst for the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

But in the early hours of June 28, 1969, after a police raid at The Stonewall Inn on Christopher St., the long-marginalized gay community decided to fight back.

For six violent nights, trans women of color, homeless LGBTQ youth, lesbians, drag queens, gay men, and their allies rioted, protested, got arrested, and changed the course of history. Though not the community’s first act of defiance — or the last — the Stonewall uprising became the defining moment in the fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rights.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the riots, the The New-York Historical Society is taking a look at its legacy and what those blood-shedding nights in Manhattan’s West Village meant in the battle for LGBTQ acceptance in New York City, the U.S., and beyond.

On view from May 24 to Sept. 22, “Stonewall 50 at New-York Historical Society” will feature two exhibitions and one special installation to highlight how the LGBTQ movement fits into New York history.

 

 

Dr. Louise Mirrer, the Society’s president and CEO, hopes to show “the critical role played by Stonewall in helping our nation towards a more perfect union,” she said.

And that path was forged in some of the unlikeliest places.

“Nightlife spaces, whether, they’re bars, restaurants, dance halls, or performance venues, have always enabled members of the LGBTQ community to meet, mingle and socialize outside of their homes, their jobs or on the streets,” Ken Lustbader, NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project’s co-director told the Daily News.

Lustbader worked as a consultant in “Letting Loose and Fighting Back: LGBTQ Nightlife Before and After Stonewall.” The exhibit, curated by Rebecca Klassen, the Society’s Assistant Curator of Material Culture, explores how nightlife has shaped the community’s identity, and strengthened its activism.

 

 

Visitors will get a chance to see artifacts from iconic gay venues from as far back as the 1950s. The exterior sign for the Paradise Garage, and a lighter with a sticker from the Ramrod, the popular leather bar that appeared in the Village People’s Y.M.C.A. video and was the scene of a deadly anti-gay shooting in 1980.

Legendary lesbian activist and Harlem Renaissance dancer Mabel Hampton is featured in “By the Force of Our Presence: Highlights from the Lesbian Herstory Archives,” which deals specifically with women and their contributions to the larger LGBTQ community.

The exhibition wraps up with “Say It Loud, Out and Proud: Fifty Years of Pride,” a timeline of LGBTQ history.

From Stonewall, to AIDS, to marches and changes in legislation, the piece acts as a teaching aid.

“There’s a graphic component that draws from 50 years of photographs of marches to create a compelling seamless visual sense of ongoing marching, work, and activism,” Klassen explained.

Click here to read the article on New York Daily News.

 

Photos, top to bottom:

[1] On view from May 24 to Sept. 22, “Stonewall 50 at New-York Historical Society” will feature two exhibitions and one special installation to highlight how the LGBTQ movement fits into New York history.

[2] National Park Service (founded 1916), Paper fan, 2016 Paper, wood. (Stonewall 50 at New-York Historical Society)

[3] Kenny Chanel and Bobby Revlon, House of Milan Ball, NYC Gay Community Center, 1990 Digital print courtesy of Chantal Regnault (b. 1945). (Stonewall 50 at New-York Historical Society)

[4] ACT UP activists at Pride March, 1988, by Eugene Gordon. (Stonewall 50 at New-York Historical Society)

[5] Dr. Martens (founded 1960), Christina McKnight’s Dyke March boots, ca. 1993–2000. The Lesbian Herstory Archives. (Stonewall 50 at New-York Historical Society)

 

 

Spreading the word about “Stonewall: The Basics”

April 15, 2019

We’re grateful to the Windy City Times for their coverage of our newly-announced “Stonewall: The Basics” factsheet.

Co-produced by the Project, Making Gay History, the New York Public Library, GLSEN, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the Stonewall 50 Consortium, “Stonewall: The Basics” is a new FAQ-style primer on the historic Stonewall uprising and an easy-to-understand guide to the people, circumstances, and legacy of the Stonewall uprising, which began in New York City’s Greenwich Village on June 28, 1969.

Read more via Windy City Times (here).

Momentum Builds to Preserve Richmond Barthé’s Brooklyn Frieze

20181129
By: Zachary Small

Today marked the second article in as many days — this time in Hyperallergic — on gay African American sculptor Richmond Barthé and his art-deco frieze at Kingsborough Houses in Brooklyn.

Green Pastures: The Walls of Jericho is Barthé’s largest work. Originally a site-specific piece meant for an amphitheater at Harlem River Houses, the work was installed in its current location in Brooklyn when the planned amphitheater was not realized (because it was a publicly funded project through the Works Progress Administration, Barthé had no say as to its ultimate location).

Following a visit to the work, art professor Michele Bogart (@urbaninsideout on Twitter) noticed the dilapidation of the work and issued a public cry for restoring the frieze:

“Traveling to Brooklyn to see the state of Barthé’s frieze last week, Bogart was shocked by what she saw: open joints, hairline cracks, large holes, and disfigurations threatened to disintegrate whatever the ice, wind, and rain had left behind.”

The published stories piqued the interest of Twitter’s art lovers, and the interest of Swann Galleries, an auction house that has experience with Barthé’s work. The gallery announced it would lead the effort to have a conservator perform a cost assessment for restoring the frieze. This is only the first step, a way to gauge what it might take for interested parties to work together toward preservation, but it’s inspiring that this cause has drawn such interest. And that interest has only continued to grow, with many continuing to express on social media their support for seeing the art preserved.

We love this story! Many thanks to everyone who has shown so much interest in what happens to this important piece of public art and its connections to LGBT and African American history. To stay informed on further developments, Swann Galleries has created a dedicated mailing list for anyone interested in learning more about how they can get involved in any future efforts.

To read the full story at Hyperallergic, click here.

Richmond Barthé’s Brooklyn Frieze in amNewYork

November 27, 2018
By: Mark Chiusano

Today, amNewYork ran an article about the state of Richmond Barthé’s public art “Green Pastures: The Walls of Jericho,” an NYC LGBT historic site located at Brooklyn’s Kingsborough Houses since 1941.

The article was spurred by Stonybrook Universtiy art professor Michele Bogart, who expressed concern for the artwork’s state of disrepair. From amNewYork:

“The reader was Michele Bogart, a former vice president of what is now the city’s Public Design Commission. She had heard that the art was in trouble and was shocked at the state of the panels when she went to take pictures of them on Friday, a surprising and imposing freestanding art-deco wall in the middle of the towers. There are open joints, hairline cracks, large holes or disfigurations between some of the dancers’ legs. All can lead to worse problems when rain seeps in, and ice and snow.”

Barthé, who was gay, is considered one of the most important sculptors of African American modernism in the first half of the twentieth century, known for work portraying religious subjects, African American history, notable performers and for public work.

This public work is the artist’s largest and was originally intended for the wall of an amphitheater at Harlem River Houses. That amphitheater was never built and the piece was installed, without Barthé’s consultation, at the Kingsborough Houses in Brooklyn.

 

Richmond Barthe’s “Green Pastures: The Walls of Jericho”

To read the full story, click here.

Celebrate LGBT History Month With a Special Trolley Tour of Green-Wood Cemetery

October 11, 2018
By: Susan De Vries

Brownstoner logo

 

Photo via NYC LGBT Historic Sites Initiative
Photo via NYC LGBT Historic Sites Initiative

 

October is LGBT History Month and if you need a bit of education on some of the leading figures of the 19th and 20th century then a special tour at Green-Wood Cemetery will provide some answers.

This weekend you can hop on a trolley and take a ride while learning more about the LGBT figures who make up some of the “permanent residents” of the historic cemetery. Spots along the tour will include the grave sites of Paul Jabara, co-writer of “It’s Raining Men,” and Emma Stebbins, sculptor of the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. The tour will be lead by Andrew Dolkart and Ken Lustbader, Co-Directors of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

Green-Wood Cemetery
Photo by Susan De Vries

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project was begun in 2015. It uses research gathered over 25 years by the organization’s founders to boost public awareness of the significance of the sites as well as the LGBT community’s role in the history of the U.S. In addition to documenting and mapping historic locations, the group is working to nominate sites to the National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service, which oversees the National Register of Historic Places, announced an LBGTQ Heritage Theme Study in 2014, part of an effort to expand the diversity of American history represented on the Register.

The “Gay Green-Wood” tour takes place on Sunday, October 14 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $25, and $20 for members Green-Wood and Brooklyn Historical Society. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Click here to read the full article at Brownstoner

 

Celebrate LGBTQ History Month with this interactive map of historic N.Y.C. sites

20181012
By: Gabrielle Golenda

 

 

Members of the Gay Liberation Front with GAY POWER shirts at City Hall, New York in 1969-1972 (Diana Davies/Courtesy New York Public Library)
Members of the Gay Liberation Front with GAY POWER shirts at City Hall, New York in 1969-1972 (Diana Davies/Courtesy New York Public Library)

This month is LGBTQ History Month and to honor it The Municipal Art Society (MAS) of New York featured a panel about historic sites associated with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights movement at this week’s MAS Summit in New York City. Every year, the conference explores how present-day issues can be informed and challenged by historical advocacy.

On Tuesday the ninth annual program featured a lecture led by the co-director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, Ken Lustbader, who, in his own words, is trying to put LGBT history on the map by “looking at it through a rainbow lens.”

Stonewall Inn Window with a protest sign (Diana Davies/Courtesy New York Public Library)
Stonewall Inn Window with a protest sign (Diana Davies/Courtesy New York Public Library)

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, a police raid at the Stonewall Inn gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village. Lustbader recalled that the riot wasn’t the first at the Christopher Street institution, but one that is especially remembered for the days-long protest where patrons were inspired to fight back, forever marking the N.Y.C. neighborhood as the unofficial cradle of the LGBT rights movement.

Stonewall Inn in 1969 (Diana Davies/Courtesy New York Public Library)
Stonewall Inn in 1969 (Diana Davies/Courtesy New York Public Library)

Stonewall Inn is just one of the places the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project documents in its interactive map of historic and cultural sites associated with the community in all five boroughs. From the Angel of the Waters statue atop the Bethesda Fountain—an 1860s masterpiece by lesbian sculptor Emma Stebbins and the earliest public artwork by a woman in New York City—to Carnegie Hall—the venue famous for hosting countless performances and works by LGBT artists—the list of historic sites reaches way beyond bars and clubs.

Continuously being added to, the network of hundreds of locations illustrates the richness of the movement’s history and its influence in the United States. Covering sites dating from the city’s founding in the 17th century to the year 2000, it currently lists 5 locations in Staten Island, 12 in Queens, 123 in Manhattan, 8 in Brooklyn, and 4 in The Bronx. The 150 pins presently live on the map can be filtered by cultural significance, neighborhood, era, and LGBT category.

Screenshot of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project interactive map (Courtesy NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project)
Screenshot of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project interactive map (Courtesy NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project)

The organization also offers themed tours that rotate throughout the year, including ones on Jewish New York, Transgender History, and The AIDS Crisis.

Many of the movement’s historic sites were unappreciated and a vast majority remain completely unknown. Landmarking LGBT sites comes with its own set of unique challenges. When a potential landmark cannot be evaluated on architectural grounds alone, a site’s social history can be difficult to establish because of a lack of proper documentation of LGBT sites. According to Lustbader, there’s historically been almost no record of various sites keeping because of stigma and fear of exposure. There’s another caveat: proving identity and gender can be difficult for LGBT people.

Protesters holding Christopher Street Liberation Day banner, 1970 (Diana Davies/Courtesy New York Public Library)
Protesters holding Christopher Street Liberation Day banner, 1970 (Diana Davies/Courtesy New York Public Library)

Today, there are now 17 LGBT-related sites of the more than 93,000 listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Lustbader and fellow project directors Andrew S. Dolkart and Jay Shockley confronted these challenges with 25 years of LGBT-specific research conducted by historic preservation professionals and numerous outreach events and crowdsourcing opportunities to develop a step-by-step guide to evaluate state and national LGBT register listings. The guide and all of their research can be accessed in the Historic Context Statement for LGBT History in New York.

Discover hundreds of places that represent NYC’s LGBT past on nyclgbtsites.org. Each site contains descriptive historical accounts, contemporary and archival photographs, related ephemera, and multimedia presentations. Happy cruising!

 

Click here to read the full article at The Architect’s Newspaper

 

 

 

AIDS Activist’s Elmhurst Corner Added To LGBT History Map

August 15, 2018
By: Danielle Woodward

 

Patch logo

 

Daniel Dromm and others at Guillermo Vasquez corner

 

ELMHURST, QUEENS — Locals are reminded of Guillermo Vasquez’s role in LGBT history every time they walk past the Elmhurst street corner bearing his name.

The intersection of 77th Street and Broadway has, for years, been home to the street sign honoring the late Jackson Heights activist who helped organize the first Queens Pride Parade. Now, that corner – and Vasquez’s name – will go from a neighborhood reminder to a historic spot in New York City’s LGBT history.

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project’s latest map documenting historic places in the city’s LBTQ history will now include the Guillermo Vasquez Corner in Elmhurst, organizers announced Wednesday. The ever-evolving digital interactive map features places across the city’s five boroughs that have shaped the LGBT community’s history and impact on the city.

Vasquez, a Colombian-born immigrant, came to New York City to study international law and political science and found his lifetime home after in Queens, where he became a leading activist for AIDS, gay rights and the borough’s Latino community.

He was a founding member of the Queens Hispanic Coalition and Queens Gays and Lesbians United, where he pushed for visibility of the LGBT community and raised awareness about the AIDS epidemic. He also advocated for LGBT rites with city and statewide organizations such as the Anti-Violence Project and the Empire State Pride Agenda.

But Vasquez is perhaps most remembered for his role in organizing the first Queens Pride Parade in 1993 and serving as a translator for Spanish-speaking participants. The LGBT parade, which began as a vigil for Julio Rivera after the 29-year-old was murdered for being gay, is now recognized as the second largest in the city with upwards of 40,000 attendees each year.

Vasquez, who died of AIDS-related complications in 1996, was recognized for his work years later by local leaders, who co-named the intersection of 77th Street and Broadway in his honor in 2013. The corner was right outside Love Boat, a former Latino bar where Vasquez educated the community about HIV/AIDS.

“If it wasn’t for Julio, the Queens LGBT movement would not have gotten as far as it has gotten,” said Queens City Councilman Daniel Dromm.

“Julio did not die in vain. He changed people’s lives.”

A spokesperson for the LGBT Historic Sites Project said at a time where historic spots across NYC are being demolished, it’s important for the group to honor early activists like Vasquez who carved out the community’s space in the city.

“It is more important than ever to remember the determination of LGBT equal rights pioneers and the physical sites which place key people and events in history,” the group said in a statement.

Vasquez’s street corner marks the ninth Queens site on the digital interactive map, but organizers said several more in the borough are being vetted for publication in the late summer and early fall.

Other Queens sites on the historic map include:

  • Bum Bum Bar in Woodside
  • West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills
  • Frank Kameny Residence in South Richmond Hill
  • Kitty Genovese Residence in Kew Gardens
  • Julio Rivera Corner in Jackson Heights
  • New York State Pavilion in Corona
  • Riis Park Beach in the Rockaways
  • Manford Family Residence in Murray Hill

 

Image: NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm and Nayibe Nunez-Berger, president of the Latin American Cultural Center of Queens, hold the Guillermo Vasquez Corner sign at the street co-naming ceremony. Photo by Ana Luisa Castaño/Queens Latino via the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

Click here to read the full article at Patch.

 

Click here to read the full article on QNS.com

 

 

Elmhurst corner co-named for Latino activist added to interactive map of historic LGBT sites

20180814
By: Emily Davenport

 

Queens news QNS logo

Daniel Dromm and others at Guillermo Vasquez corner
Photo by Ana Luisa Castaño via Queens Latino.
NYC Councilman Daniel Dromm and Nayibe Nunez-Berger, president of the Latin American Cultural Center of Queens, hold the Guillermo Vasquez Corner sign at the July 27, 2013, street co-naming ceremony.

 

An Elmhurst corner co-named for a Colombian-born Queens resident who helped organize annual Queens Pride Parade has been added to a digital map of historic LGBT spots in New York City.

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project announced that it has added Guillermo Vasquez Corner, located at the corner of 77th Street and Broadway, has been added to their interactive map. The map features diverse places from the 17th century to the year 2000 that are important to local LGBT history.

Born near Cali, Columbia, Guillermo Vasquez emigrated to Queens in 1972 to study international law. A longtime resident of Jackson Heights, Vasquez was a key advocate for the borough’s Latino community and pushed for LGBT visibility in Queens. He also raised awareness about the AIDS epidemic, particularly in the Latino community.

A member of Queens Gays and Lesbians United, Vasquez would go on to serve on the board of the Empire State Pride Agenda, a statewide organization that advocated for LGBT rights. In 1993, he helped organize the first Queens Pride Parade as a member of the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee and served as a translator for Spanish-speaking participants. Vasquez would later pass away due to AIDS-related complications in 1996.

The corner of 77th Street and Broadway was co-named “Guillermo Vasquez Corner” back in 2013. The sign was unveiled next to the Love Boat, a former gay Latino bar where Vasquez educated the community about HIV/AIDS.

“He was a fierce soldier in the battle against HIV/AIDS and a bridge between Latino activists and other movements for social justice.” said NYC Councilman Daniel Dromm at the unveiling.

Guillermo Vasquez
Guillermo Vasquez

“Guillermo Vasquez Corner” joins eight other historic sites for the LGBT community on the interactive map. The publication of the “Guillermo Vasquez Corner” entry on The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project’s website comes just days before the 18th anniversary of the silent candlelight vigil for Julio Rivera that took place in Jackson Heights on Aug. 18, 1990.

Rivera, a 29-year-old Puerto Rican man from the Bronx, was brutally attacked by three skinheads from a local street gang in the P.S. 69 schoolyard because he was gay. Rivera later died of his injuries at Elmhurst Hospital.

The vigil is considered the first successful gay public demonstration in Queens and marked the expansion of LGBT activism beyond Manhattan and connecting activists in both boroughs. In 2013, the southwest corner of 78th Street and 37th Avenue was co-named “Julio Rivera Corner” to honor his memory, and was later added to the interactive map.

“If it wasn’t for Julio, the Queens LGBT movement would not have gotten as far as it has gotten. Julio did not die in vain. He changed people’s lives,” Councilman Daniel Dromm said of Julio Rivera in 2015.

 

NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project Guillermo Vasquez Corner
Photo by Amanda Davis/NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

Click here to read the full article on QNS.com

 

 

 

Place and Community: An Interview with the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

June 26, 2018
By: Gotham Center

Gotham Center logo

 

What is the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project? How did it come to be?

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is a cultural heritage initiative that is documenting historic places associated with the LGBT community throughout the city’s five boroughs. We’re focusing on sites directly connected to LGBT history, but also sites that show the impact the LGBT community has made on New York and American culture. Our goal is to broaden people’s understanding of this history beyond Stonewall by documenting all kinds of sites (such as community spaces, former residences of notable figures, activist demonstration locations, and performance venues) from the founding of New Amsterdam in the 17th century to the year 2000. We’re putting an LGBT lens on the city’s history and currently have over 130 sites mapped, with an internal master list of over 300 more sites, and counting. We’re also nominating LGBT-related sites to the National Register of Historic Places, the federal government’s honorary list of sites deemed significant to American history, in order to increase LGBT representation.

The project began in 2015, but its roots really formed in the early 1990s. At that time, our three project directors/founders — Andrew Dolkart, Ken Lustbader, and Jay Shockley — were part of the Organization of Lesbian and Gay Architects + Designers (OLGAD), which produced a map of LGBT historic sites in Greenwich Village, Midtown, and Harlem. They each continued researching and writing about LGBT history over the years — which included nominating Stonewall as the first-ever LGBT listing on the National Register in 1999 and first-ever LGBT National Historic Landmark in 2000 — and in 2014 they applied for an Underrepresented Communities grant from the National Park Service, administered by the New York State Historic Preservation Office. With additional matching grants from the New York Community Trust, the Arcus Foundation, and others, they hired me as project manager a year later.

Amanda DavisWhat new aspects of the project have developed over the past year?

The project began as a survey of historic sites intended to be placed on a publicly-accessible map (now available on our website) and submitted more formally to the New York State Historic Preservation Office. Since then, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of people, including a new generation of LGBT activists, who have approached us with ways to take this project in directions we hadn’t necessarily anticipated. From the beginning we have been giving educational presentations to high school and college students as well as adults, but over a year ago we were contacted by both an educational consultant and the founders of History UnErased who felt that the content on our website could be used as an effective curriculum tool. We recently presented our work to public school teachers at an NYC Department of Education conference, and were thrilled with the enthusiastic response. We are working with all these stakeholders to implement LGBT history into the city’s public school curriculum.

How do you feel a place-based approach provides a unique perspective on New York’s LGBT history?

It’s one thing to talk about history and see it in photos; it’s quite another, I think, to be able to stand in front of the building and connect with the people and events that came before you. We heard from a schoolteacher recently who wanted to take her daughter to see the buildings where gay and lesbian civil rights activists James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, and Bayard Rustin lived. There is something about that tangible link to history — a hidden history — that is so powerful.

Place also holds particular meaning for marginalized groups. More so (but not exclusively) in the past, the LGBT community would have been acutely aware of which spaces they could exist openly and which they could not. It is interesting from a preservation perspective to take that into account when recording these histories. When I wrote the National Register nomination for the Caffe Cino, I focused on its importance as the birthplace of Off-Off-Broadway, but also for its pioneering role in developing gay theater and supporting gay artists in the pre-Stonewall era (when it was illegal to depict homosexuality on stage). I found quotes from gay playwrights who spoke about walking through the Cino’s doors and feeling like they could write about anything. One of the most moving remembrances came from the late playwright William Hoffman, who said, “I never would have been a playwright without the Caffe Cino. I never certainly would have written about gay subjects that freely. That was the kind of empowerment that the place gave us. We were no longer victims.”

Do you think of yourself as a preservationist organization? Is part of your goal to landmark or advocate for the preservation of the sites you feature that are still standing?

Yes, we definitely see ourselves as a preservationist organization. We all have worked as historic preservationists in various capacities and graduated from Columbia’s Historic Preservation program. Our project is very much place-based and focuses on sites that are still standing, though we do have an internal list of demolished sites. The narrative of each site focuses more on the LGBT-related cultural significance, but a few of the buildings and works of public art that we have mapped were designed by gay and lesbian architects and artists. In addition, we’re seeing that our research has direct social justice connections by providing a physical link to prior protests, community centers, and activists.

As far as landmarking and advocating for the preservation of these sites, one of the most important aspects of the project is to first raise public awareness of LGBT history and the cultural contributions of the community to American history; it’s virtually impossible to rally the public and elected officials around a campaign to protect sites from demolition/extensive alterations if most people are unaware that this history even exists. Having said that, we have written three nominations to the State and National Registers of Historic Places (Julius’, Caffe Cino, and Earl Hall at Columbia University) and amended the National Register nomination for the Alice Austen House on Staten Island to include its LGBT history. Those were written as part of the National Park Service (NPS) grant and we are writing two more as part of a second grant. We’ve also just submitted a context statement for LGBT history in New York City to the New York State Historic Preservation Office (which administers the NPS grants) in order to provide guidance to the state office, preservationists, and others in recognizing and evaluating LGBT historic sites. At the city level, we’re working with the Walt Whitman Coalition to advocate that the Landmarks Preservation Commission designate Whitman’s house, at 99 Ryerson Street in Brooklyn, a New York City Landmark.

How do you hope people will use your content?

We see the website as a starting off point to inspire further research, whether this be done by students, scholars, or anyone with an interest in this history. The effort to landmark Walt Whitman’s home actually began with a young preservationist who was shocked to learn through our website and presentations that the building wasn’t a protected landmark. We are also hoping people will walk by some of these buildings and take pride in the fact that LGBT history happened there or they will look again at a site or person they may have already known about with a new perspective. For those who don’t live in the New York City area, and perhaps do not feel they can be open about their sexuality or gender identity, our website can be a valuable and affirming resource. LGBT history, people, and events are rarely taught or even discussed in the classroom — and even then they are limited to urban centers like New York City or San Francisco — ​so we hope that our website can be a learning tool for all youth.

What’s next for the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project?

We’ve been busy during Pride Month giving presentations and attending various events. On June 26th, we’ll be giving our first-ever public walking tour of sites around Stonewall National Monument. As I mentioned earlier, we have two more National Register nominations to complete. We have a few ideas for which sites we would like to focus on, but we first have to obtain owner consent and evaluate the interior integrity of the space, both challenging. We’re also part of the Stonewall50 Consortium, which is an organization that has brought together cultural institutions and groups in order to facilitate discussion about programming and events to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in 2019. Through this, we are part of a team of advisors for the New-York Historical Society’s May-September 2019 exhibition on LGBTQ bars and nightlife in the pre- and post-Stonewall eras. The exhibition will focus on these spaces as sites of liberation, activism, and oppression, and will help contextualize the Stonewall uprising.

We are also looking at various ways in which we can take the information on our website and make it even more useful for people, particularly for those who will be visiting the city for World Pride (New York City is the host city in 2019). We’ve exploring the idea of an app with curated walking tours.

Finally, we’re always working on adding more sites to the website as they are researched and written. A historic preservation graduate student is currently researching pre-Stonewall lesbian bar spaces that we will begin publishing to our website in late June. Through continued research and public outreach, we are also focusing our efforts on documenting more sites associated with women, people of color, and the transgender community as well as those sites located in upper Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island.

 

Amanda Davis is an architectural historian and has been the project manager of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project since its founding in 2015. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in architectural history from the University of Virginia and a Master’s in historic preservation from Columbia University.

 

Q&A: Alumna Amanda Davis is On a Mission to Save NYC’s LGBTQ Landmarks

June 21, 2018
By: Caroline Newman

 

Caffe Cino
Davis is working to protect sites like Caffe Cino, the birthplace of off-off-Broadway experimental theater, shown here in 1962. (Photo by Brian Merlis)

You likely know about The Stonewall Inn, home of the 1969 riots that marked a key turning point in the modern fight for gay rights in the United States.

However, you might not know about the hundreds of other places in New York City that have played an important role in LGBTQ history, from one of America’s oldest gay bars, Julius,’ to grim sites like the street corner where Julio Rivera was murdered in a 1990 hate crime that sparked the first Queens Pride Parade.

Uncovering and recognizing those sites is the biggest and most rewarding part of Amanda Davis’s job.

Davis, who graduated in 2004 from the University of Virginia School of Architecture, recently was named to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “40 Under 40: People Saving Places” list. She is the project manager for the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, founded in 2015 by architectural historians Andrew Dolkart, Ken Lustbader and Jay Shockley to educate residents and tourists about LGBTQ history in New York City.

Davis graduated from UVA in 2004 with a degree in architectural history. (Contributed photo)

Together with the founders, Davis – the project’s only full-time employee – finds and researches sites, adds them to the project’s interactive map and prepares nominations for the National Register of Historic Places, which is the federal government’s honorary list of historic places around the country deemed significant to American history.

We caught up with her earlier in June – recently designated as “Pride Month” in New York City – to learn more about her work.

Q. When did you first become interested in architectural history?

A. In some ways, it was a happy accident. I had not decided what I wanted to major in and I needed another class to take during the second semester of my first year. Scrolling through the course catalogue, I happened upon [former architectural history lecturer] Camille Wells’ class, “Thomas Jefferson, Architect.”

It was fascinating. I loved learning about history through the built environment, and I transferred into the School of Architecture the next year to study architectural history.

Q. How did you get involved in the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project?

A. I was working as an architectural historian for a nonprofit in Greenwich Village when I heard about the project manager opening. One of the founders was my professor in graduate school at Columbia [University], and another was a former coworker. I thought it was a great opportunity to work on history that had not really been explored.

Within the field of historic preservation, I knew of only a few LGBTQ projects in California at that time. The LGBTQ community is such a big part of New York, but so much of its history has not been discovered. I wanted to be part of bringing that history to light.

Q. What kind of day-to-day work does that mission require?

A. There is a lot of archival research and sleuthing. I lead survey efforts to identify and research sites, relying on historical documentation, reports from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, public library archives and other sources.

We also hold a lot of public events, reaching out to various groups around the city to tell them about what we are learning and also get ideas from them about sites we should research.

Once I have the research, I work on updating our website and interactive map and also nominate sites for honorary recognition by the state or federal government or for official protection at the local level by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. A grant we received from the National Park Service requires us to write seven nominations for the National Register of Historic Places; we have completed five so far.

Q. How many sites have you explored so far?

A. We launched our new website last year with information on about 100 sites. Now, we have prioritized about 350 additional sites for further research and recognition. It’s a pretty diverse list, representing different boroughs, ethnic groups and time periods from the 17th century to the year 2000.

Alice Austen's house, Clear Comfort
Photographer Alice Austen’s Staten Island home is now a museum and one of many sites the project has won recognition for. (Photo by Amanda Davis)

 

Q. If you were to pick a few sites for someone visiting New York to discover, what would they be?

A. A lot of people know about The Stonewall Inn, but there are so many other sites that can tell us a lot about LGBTQ history and about members of the gay community who have positively impacted New York City and American culture.

There are other historic bars like Julius,’ near Stonewall, where four gay rights activists from the Mattachine Society conducted a “sip-in” in 1966, modeled after the sit-ins happening in the civil rights movement. They wanted to bring attention to the discrimination that gay men and lesbians faced in bars.

There is a great house museum, the Alice Austen House on Staten Island, where we recently worked with staff to add LGBTQ history to the narrative the museum portrays. Austen, a celebrated turn-of-the-20th-century photographer, had lived with her partner of 53 years, Gertrude Tate, but until recently Gertrude was erased from the narrative.

I also loved working on the National Register of Historic Places nomination for Caffe Cino, the birthplace of off-off-Broadway and a pioneer in the development of gay theater at a time when depicting homosexuality on stage was illegal.

Another interesting and poignant site is the corner where Julio Rivera, a gay Latino man, was murdered in Jackson Heights in 1990. That crime really galvanized both the Latino and the gay communities in Queens and eventually inspired the Queens Pride Parade, which began in 1993.

Daniel Dromm and community remembers Julio Rivera
Julio Rivera’s friends and family gathered with City Council Member Daniel Dromm on the 20th anniversary of his murder in July 2010. (Contributed photo)

Q. What do you find most rewarding about the work you do?

A. It has been amazing to see how people respond to the project and how far it has come. We held a workshop for public schoolteachers last week who were very enthusiastic about using our site in their classrooms. We also give historic tours to young people; on a recent tour one teen told me that she thought she was alone until she learned about some of this history.

It’s amazing to see – time and again – how the information can impact people.

Q. Anything else to add?

A. We are always adding more places and have a suggestion form on our website where anyone can submit historic sites they feel should be included on our map. I would love to hear from people.

 


 

“NYC’s Proud History”

June 20, 2018
By: Jack Ford

Project co-directors Ken Lustbader and Andrew Dolkart joined Jack Ford yesterday for a great conversation on NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project’s journey to document LGBT culture in New York City.

 

Ken Lustbader and Andrew Dolkart on Metrofocus

 

They talk about our place-based, scholarly effort to document this unique history, our interactive map, and go over a couple very special sites.

Click here to see the full video on MetroFocus.

You Could Be in a Gay Bar Right Now and Not Even Know It

20180620
By: Brian Sloan

New York Times Logo

A lesbian bar from the 1920s. A “fairy den” from the 1890s. An Ecstasy-fueled disco from the 1990s. Celebrating the hidden places in Manhattan where gay night life once flourished.

Eve Addams Tea Room
Visitors gathered outside the site of the Eve Addam’s Tearoom, a lesbian hangout in the 1920s.

NYT Gay Bar Was Here
The Gay Bars That Are Gone tour paid homage to the Palladium near Union Square, a former club that is now a dormitory. Credit Amy Lombard for The New York Times

“Amanda Davis, a historian for the NYC L.G.B.T. Historic Sites Project, offered a history lesson in front of the former Eve Addams’ Tea Room (129 MacDougal Street), a lesbian hot spot from the mid-1920s run by a Polish-Jewish émigré named Eva Kotchever. A sign on the door, she said, once warned: ‘Men are admitted, but not welcome.'”

To read the full article on the “Gay Bars That Are Gone” Jane’s Walk in the New York Times, click here.


 

11 LGBTQ Historic Landmarks In New York City

20180618
By: James Michael Nichols

Huffpost logo

 LGBTQ history is, in many ways, New York City history.

Huffpost PRIDE article image
Illustration: Huffpost

It’s impossible to consider the history of the LGBTQ movement without thinking about New York City.

From the riots at Stonewall to sip-ins at Julius’, the history of the queer movement is intimately intertwined with New York’s.

A new project is helping document and connect some of the most significant locations for LGBTQ people across the city’s five boroughs.

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is working to create a large-scale documentation of sites around the city that convey the community’s influence on American culture.

The New York Community Trust, an organization with a history of funding projects that advance and protect LGBTQ history, was the first private funder of the project.

“The project has identified sites that date back hundreds of years to today that illustrate important moments in the struggle for LGBT civil rights,” said Kerry McCarthy of the New York Community Trust. “But also sites that shine a light on important aspects of our heritage and history as New Yorkers and Americans, given the incredible contributions that LGBT New Yorkers have made.”

“Most people conceptualize Stonewall as the birthplace of LGBT activism, but we really want to show people that there was LGBT lives and LGBT history and LGBT narrative in New York City that led up to Stonewall and contributed to that starting in the 17th century,” Ken Lustbader of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project told HuffPost. “Real activism in New York was taking place in the 1950s and ’60s, predating Stonewall, and if it wasn’t for those people already organizing, there would not have been a Stonewall.”

Below, check out 11 of the places listed in the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, and head here to view the growing database of queer history in New York City.

Site descriptions have been republished with permission from the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

 

LGBT Community Center

Christy Havranek/HuffPost
Christy Havranek/HuffPost

Since 1983, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center has served as a vital support system for hundreds of thousands of people.

The center 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-nonconforming community in the state.

 

Christopher Street Piers

Damon Dahlen/HuffPost
Damon Dahlen/HuffPost

For over a century, the Greenwich Village Hudson River waterfront, including the Christopher Street Pier at West 10th Street, has been a destination for the LGBT community that has evolved from a place for cruising and sex for gay men to an important safe haven for a marginalized queer community — mostly queer homeless youths of color.

From 1971 to 1983, the interiors of the piers’ ruin-like terminals featured a diverse range of artistic work, including site-based installations, photography, murals and performances.

 

Lorraine Hansberry Residence

Christy Havranek/HuffPost
Christy Havranek/HuffPost

 

Damon Dahlen/HuffPost
Damon Dahlen/HuffPost

From 1953 to 1960, playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry resided in the third-floor apartment of this building.

While here, Hansberry lived parallel lives: one as the celebrated playwright of “A Raisin in the Sun,” the first play by a black woman to appear on Broadway, and the other as a woman who privately explored her homosexuality through her writing, relationships and social circle.

 

Lesbian Herstory Archives

Christy Havranek/HuffPost
Christy Havranek/HuffPost

Founded in 1974, the Lesbian Herstory Archives was first housed on the Upper West Side of Manhattan before opening its current location in Brooklyn’s Park Slope in 1993.

The volunteer-based archives, which also serves as a museum and community center, has one of the world’s largest collection of records “by and about lesbians and their communities,” according to its website.

 

New York Stock Exchange – ACT UP Demonstrations

Christy Havranek/HuffPost
Christy Havranek/HuffPost

The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power formed in 1987 to call attention to the AIDS crisis. In 1988 and ’89, it held two huge demonstrations at the New York Stock Exchange to protest the high price of the AIDS drug AZT, which was unaffordable to most people living with HIV.

 

Stonewall Inn

Damon Dahlen/HuffPost
Damon Dahlen/HuffPost

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.

The events during that six-day period are seen as the beginning of the modern LGBT rights movement, with large numbers of groups forming around the country in the following years.

The Stonewall Inn was 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), with additional city, state and federal recognition in 2015 and 2016.

 

Julius’

Damon Dahlen/HuffPost
Damon Dahlen/HuffPost

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 of revoking the licenses of bars that served known or suspected gay men and lesbians.

 

Rivington House

Damon Dahlen/HuffPost
Damon Dahlen/HuffPost

In 1995 this former public school reopened as a 219-bed nursing home for people with AIDS — the largest of its kind in New York City.

Rivington House was controversially sold by the city to a private developer in 2015.

 

Audre Lorde Residence

Christy Havranek/HuffPost
Christy Havranek/HuffPost

Acclaimed black lesbian feminist, writer and activist Audre Lorde lived here with her partner and two children from 1972 to 1987.

In that time, Lorde was a prolific and influential writer, co-founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press and spoke at the 1979 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

 

Bayard Rustin Residence

Damon Dahlen/HuffPost
Damon Dahlen/HuffPost

Bayard Rustin, one of the most important yet least-known figures of the civil rights movement, lived in an apartment in this Chelsea building complex from 1963 to his death in 1987.

While here, he served as the lead organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and took part in numerous social justice campaigns around the world.

 

Transy House

Christy Havranek/HuffPost
Christy Havranek/HuffPost

Transy House was a transgender collective operated by Rusty Mae Moore and Chelsea Goodwin from 1995 to 2008.

It provided shelter for trans and gender-nonconforming people in need, served as a center for trans activism and was the last residence of pioneering LGBT rights activist Sylvia Rivera.

#TheFutureIsQueer is HuffPost’s monthlong celebration of queerness, not just as an identity but as action in the world. Find all of our Pride Month coverage here.

Click here to read the full article on Huffpost.


 

Project takes NYC’s LGBT history out of the closet, and into the spotlight

20180514
By: Kristin Toussaint

Metro US News Logo

 

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project has found about 400 real places in all five boroughs tied to LGBT history from the 17th century to 2000, and plans to add even more.

Project co-director Ken Lustbader

 

When the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village was designated a National Monument in 2016, it was the first and only historic site out of about 92,000 in the National Park System to be recognized for its connection to the LGBT community. After a police raid of the gay bar in 1969, riots there sparked the gay rights movement.

Now, in 2018, there are still less than 20 sites on the National Register of Historic Places recognized for their tie to LGBT history, out of more than 93,000 properties across the country, said historian Jay Shockley.

The New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project, which Shockley co-founded with Ken Lustbader and Andrew Dolkart, has been responsible for the national listing of six of those sites.

But that’s just the beginning. Through their project, they’ve identified hundreds of historic LGBT sites across all five boroughs that show the timeline of that community way before, and beyond, Stonewall.

LGBT history predates Stonewall by hundreds of years, Lustbader said, and the project has identified about 400 properties around New York City from the 17th century to the year 2000, and they’re continually adding more.

“This is a cultural heritage initiative,” he said. “It’s about place-based history, like residences, performance venues, commemorations — showing that LGBT history is American history by creating a physical landscape.”

These sites are listed on the project’s website at nyclgbtsites.org via an interactive map, and the founders hope people use that to create their own historical tour of the city. And, these places aren’t just interesting or relevant to those within the LGBT community, they say.

NYC LGBT Sites interactive map from Metro New York

“We’re the only project, as far as we know, in the United States that looks at it both ways, [meaning] the influence of the LGBT community on American culture, not just sites that are important to the community itself,” Shockley said.

They’ve highlighted LGBT artists who have influenced all sorts, like where author Truman Capote lived to buildings designed by LGBT architects.

“What they’re trying to do is bring LGBT history out of the closet and into the spotlight, because LGBT history is New York City history, is American history,” said Kerry McCarthy, program director for arts and historic preservation with the New York Community Trust.

The Trust is a community foundation that funds nonprofits with the goal of improving the city. It was the first private funder of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

Recently, McCarthy and some Trust donors (not directly linked to this project) did a walking tour around Greenwich Village with Lustbader and Shockley. Though they barely scratched the surface of LGBT history in New York, Kerry said it was nice to have a chance to see at least part of the project’s map “come alive.”

“We think it’s terrific to shine a light on LGBT history because it has been in the shadows,” McCarthy said, “and the more people understand the significant cultural role the LGBT community has played, the better off we’ll be as New Yorkers, and Americans.”

 

Click to read the article on Metro New York.

Photos (from top): (1) Ken Lustbader shows a historic photo of the original Stewart’s Cafeteria, later called Life Cafeteria, in Greenwich Village, which attracted a prominent gay and lesbian following. Photo: Amy Wolf for The New York Community Trust; (2) A screenshot of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project interactive map.


 

An Urgent Effort to Document New York’s LGBTQ History Before It Disappears

20180405
By: Muri Assunção

 

The former meeting place of the Gay Liberation Front is slated for demolition — but a group of historian-activists is racing to document sites like it, before they disappear.

A historic New York building that was the meeting place of the Gay Liberation Front — once a leading gay rights organization, and the first in the nation formed after the Stonewall Riots — has been marked for destruction. As the planned demolition approaches, a group devoted to LGBTQ history is racing to document sites like it, before they disappear.

The saga began two years ago, when the luxury real estate giant Extell Developments purchased four adjacent buildings in Greenwich Village, with plans of demolition reportedly set for next year. The $50 million deal was one of many Extell purchases from the family-run Duell Management, and it could’ve been seen as just another example of high-rise developments erasing old Manhattan’s charm. But the building at 69 West 14th Street, on the corner of 6th Avenue, has special significance for those who remember New York’s LGBTQ history.

The Gay Liberation Front (GLF) mobilized in 1969, after a police raid and subsequent riot at the Stonewall Inn. The structure, built in 1909, not only housed the group’s social and political gatherings, but was also the site of major cultural contributions to New York City and beyond, such as housing both the first Merce Cunningham studio and The Living Theatre, a venue that once hosted a reading by Frank O’Hara and Gregory Corso. (They were famously heckled by a drunk Jack Kerouac.)

Last month, as the last storefront tenants of the building — PMT Dance Studio and Moscot Eyewear, one of New York City’s oldest businesses — closed their doors, the inevitable wrecking ball felt as close as ever. And with it, an important cultural heritage site with ties to the very early days of the queer liberation movement seemed closer to extinction.

The planned demolition “is a real loss that shows the significance of LGBT spaces and cultural sites in the city should be recognized,” Ken Lustbader, a co-founder of the New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project told Hyperallergic. “We’re trying to get ahead of the curve proactively to identify these sites that show and convey LGBT history.”

Lustbader, Jay Shockley, and Andrew Dolkart founded the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project as a nonprofit in 2014, after receiving a grant from the National Park Service —“the first ever LGBT-related grant given” by the agency, Shockley said. Their mandate was to identify and research sites that have been important historically and culturally to the LGBTQ community.

The project also nominates sites to the National Register of Historic Places, an honorary federal list that includes over 93,500 sites across the country. LGBTQ history remains seriously underrepresented, with less than 20 sites in the Register.

Since its inception, the Project has added five New York City sites. Earlier this year, Earl Hall at Columbia University was listed for its affiliation with the Student Homophile League, the first gay student organization in the country, founded in 1966 at Columbia University. Last year, it listed Greenwich Village’s Caffe Cino, and it amended the nomination to the Alice Austen House on Staten Island, which had been “written in the 1970s but needed to be amended to update her same-sex relationship and add more information about her pioneering transgressive photography.” Julius Bar and the Bayard Rustin Residence were added in 2016. (Stonewall was added to the registry in 1999, with help from Shockley and Dolkart.)This is first time in the four-year history of the organization that a site is actively being threatened with demolition. The threat of losing such an important piece of queer history underscores the urgency of the organization’s work: to document neglected, forgotten, and vanishing sites that shaped LGBTQ communities and American culture.

This year, the Project partnered with New York City’s Historic District Council (HDC) in Six to Celebrate, an effort to “identify sites in the city that are significant related to cultural heritage.” The importance of this site, where GLF organized resistance to the persecution of LGBTQ communities, “cannot be overstated,” Shockley said.

For the organization’s founders, the importance of national history is matched by an awareness of local transformation. Lustbader and Shockley live blocks away from the GLF’s former meeting site. “There’s been increasing discussion over the last year about all new developments on 14th Street,” Shockley said, describing another planned demolition at an adjacent site. The 1952 building where Banksy recently drew his now-famous rat sold last year, for $42.4 million, is set to be torn down to make room for a condominium and retail space. That building also had a 110-foot-long mural in its lobby: Julien Binford’s “A Memory of 14th Street and 6th Avenue.” If it weren’t for the joint efforts of New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and the community-based preservation group Save Chelsea, that too, would’ve been destroyed forever. “14th Street, like every place else in Manhattan, is getting attacked by high rise development,” Shockley said.

There are currently 118 sites on the NYC LGBT Sites website. 400 have been nominated by the public and are currently in the project’s database. The process of researching and factually checking data is lengthy: “photographic documentation, multi-media, interviews,” said Lustbader. “We don’t want information that isn’t fully vetted.” Once they are satisfied with the factual accuracy, they make specific sites public “based on some priorities that include rarity, timing with anniversaries, and significance.”

As the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots approaches, the Project’s goal is to expand the research to past Manhattan, and to adapt their research for use in classrooms. Two more nominations to the National Register of Historic Places are also in the works, but their names can’t be announced yet, since consent from the property owners is needed. The organization is also working to secure “individual landmark” status for the Walt Whitman Residence in Brooklyn.

Photos, top to bottom: (1) 69 West 14th Street, as it appeared before the departure of its longtime tenant Moscot Eyewear (2016, courtesy Christopher D. Brazee and NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project); (2) The Stonewall Inn in 1969 (via Wikimedia); (3) Peter Hujar, “Gay Liberation Front Poster Image” (1969), gelatin silver print, 18 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches (courtesy The Morgan Library & Museum, © Peter Hujar Archive, LLC); (4) The Stonewall Inn as it appeared during Pride Week 2016 (via Wikimedia); (5) The cover of Ink, an alternative newspaper that covered the GLF in 1971 (via Wikimedia).

Sip-In History Fill-In (Letter to the Editor)

March 28, 2018
By: Amanda Davis, Andrew S. Dolkart, Ken Lustbader and Jay Shockley

To The Editor:

Re “Friends and fans toast ‘Sip-In’ leader Leitsch” (news article, March 9):

We first met Dick Leitsch shortly before the 50th anniversary of the Sip-In on April 21, 2016. One of the first accomplishments of our New York City L.G.B.T. Historic Sites Project was the listing of Julius’ on the National Register of Historic Places, which was announced at our anniversary celebration there. Since then, we have come to regard Dick as a friend, and cherish his important accomplishments during his time heading the Mattachine Society in the 1960s.

We’d like to clarify a few points about Julius’ and the Sip-In. There has been a bar at that location since the mid-19th century, and under the current name since around 1930. The New York State Liquor Authority was created in 1934 at the end of Prohibition. Under the S.L.A.’s loose “regulations,” a bar that was “disorderly” could lose its license, and early on, the mere presence of gay men or lesbians came to be interpreted as being in that category. After the Sip-In, there was no court case in New York about gay bars. The Sip-In publicity, and Mattachine’s negotiating the interest of William H. Booth, the African-American chairperson of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, caused the S.L.A. to disavow having had such a policy on homosexuals.

Helen Buford, the current owner of Julius’, is a wonderful steward of the bar and its history. We are pleased the upcoming April 21 event for the Sip-In anniversary will also be a fundraiser for our project.

Finally, Dick Leitsch’s wishes for his funeral and for his remains’ final resting place is for them both to be at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields on Hudson St., not the Church of the Village.

Amanda Davis, Andrew S. Dolkart, Ken Lustbader and Jay Shockley
Davis, Dolkart, Lustbader and Shockley are members, New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project

 

Click here to read the original March 9, 2018, article.

Click here to read the Letter to the Editor on TheVillager.com.

Battlegrounds and Bachelor Flats

20180207
By: Jay Shockley

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project represents 25 years of work by founders Andrew Dolkart, Ken Lustbader, and Jay Shockley to document significant sites in the history of of LGBT people in New York City. Visit the project website to explore.

The first initiative to document historic and cultural sites associated with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in the five boroughs, the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project launched its website in March 2017, but the project is more than a quarter century in the making. Jay Shockley worked as senior historian at the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, researching and writing over 100 designation reports covering all aspects of the city’s architectural, social, and cultural history, before turning his attention full-time to this project, which he directs together with Andrew Dolkart and Ken Lustbader. Related in certain ways to contemporaneous domestic and international efforts, the New York City project identifies and advocates for the preservation of LGBT historic sites in the city’s five boroughs, with a website featuring an interactive map of 111 sites and counting. Below, Shockley looks backward and forward, through the project and through his career, discussing the challenges that come with “making an invisible history visible.” – JM

Jacob Moore (JM): Tell me about the origins of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. Specifically, I’m hoping we might talk about what I see as the three different ways it engages with design and representation. Not only does it identify architectures and urban sites of significance, and employ techniques of representation for the organization and display of that information, but it also contends very directly with representation in a political sense. It clearly speaks to the way that political representation has changed from the 1960s to the present by engaging with historic sites themselves, reaching much further back in time.

Jay Shockley (JS): Yes, our project pushes way beyond that. Our earliest site that we have currently online is from 1802. Also, it’s important to me to point out that the three of us who are the project, Andrew Dolkart, Ken Lustbader, and myself, are all historic preservationists, as is our project manager, Amanda Davis. So as a baseline we would absolutely say that this is architectural because the project is all site-based and every single story that we tell on the website — 111 so far — is architecture- and cultural heritage-based, unlike so many other projects that are online.

JM: Your point about it being rooted with a group of historic preservationists is really well taken, and I’m curious how your approach to that work has taken personal identity into consideration.

JS: I grew up in Baltimore and my family was Maryland-rooted on both sides for generations, with a real sense of place-based identity. It pained me that there were significant buildings, places that I loved, that were torn down. I went to Columbia, which is the first graduate program in historic preservation in the United States, for graduate school, and through a variety of circumstances, I got a part-time job at the Landmarks Commission and ended up being there for 35-and-a-half years. I worked on everything from 18th-century projects to World War II and everything in between. At a certain point, you realize there are all sorts of categories of buildings in New York — all sorts of categories of people — that are not getting addressed through historic preservation. One of the great ironies is that there’s a huge number of LGBT people that are in the design profession, in preservation in particular, but also cultural heritage, museum directors, museum curators, historians, professors, librarians, archivists … the number of LGBT professionals is just mind-blowing.

JM: Sort of an unspoken truth?

JS: Yes. At various points when I was working at the Commission, we were in the middle of the national culture wars and debates, with people like Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond claiming that the LGBT community is destroying American culture when it was exactly the opposite. In many ways we’re both a creative force of American culture and we’re curators of that culture. So back in ’92, ’93, this organization called OLGAD (Organization of Lesbian + Gay Architects and Designers) briefly popped up. There were about a dozen of us historic preservationists who got together and produced a walking tour map in time for the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. One side was the Village, the other side was half Midtown and half Harlem. We now believe that was the first effort in the entire United States to do a site-based LGBT history. Andrew Dolkart and Ken Lustbader were part of that group, as was I. For almost the last 25 years we talked about doing something else, which ended up morphing into this project with a website.

In the meantime, despite the fact that New York has only one specifically designated landmark for LGBT purposes — Stonewall — the city has more LGBT documentation by far than any other city in the US due to staff efforts at the Commission. To New York’s shame, five other cities designated LGBT-associated buildings before we did, but then it finally came around in 2015 when Stonewall was made a city landmark. It was actually the week that marriage was legalized nationally; the Commission knew the Supreme Court decision was going to be coming out. They wanted to hop on the bandwagon.

Detail from “A Guide to Lesbian & Gay New York Historical Landmarks” (1994), published by the Organization of Lesbian + Gay Architects and Designers. Image courtesy of NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

JM: Can you say more about how Stonewall led the way in terms of designation? And also about the need to expand the public’s understanding of LGBT spaces “beyond” Stonewall, as you state in the project’s mission?

JS: As we were promoting this idea of LGBT place-based history, even with personal friends, even with other gay people, we’d always get this puzzled look, like, “What on earth are you talking about? What is there beyond bars?” So our motivation was to get this history out, as our tagline goes: making invisible history visible. It was to alert all the governmental decision-making bodies, like the Landmarks Commission, the New York State Preservation Office, much less the National Register of Historic Places, in part to destroy all these myths that history started at Stonewall. In our next round of sites, we’re going to include one 17th-century site of execution. There are two documented cases where men in New Amsterdam were killed for a charge of sodomy.

This map shows the 17th century Lower Manhattan waterfront, including the site at the intersection of Whitehall Street and the waterfront where men were executed for sodomy at least twice. Re-draft of the Castello Plan, New Amsterdam in 1660, drafted by John Wolcott Adams and Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes, 1916. Image via the New York Public Library, Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, courtesy of NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

JM: Where did that happen?

JS: It was called “The Place of Executions.” It was the original southern shoreline of Manhattan at Whitehall. So we’re going to pin it on the map at about Whitehall and Water Street. They were outdoor executions. Another one was a known place that men looking for other men would go. In the 1840s, City Hall Park and the adjacent blocks of Broadway became notorious for young, working-class men selling their favors. Beyond this chronological diversity, I should also say that obviously the scope of our project is all five boroughs and the great diversity within the LGBT communities. We’re trying to destroy the myth that only Manhattan is where everything happened. But because our project is only extant sites, there are obviously a whole bunch of sites that just don’t exist anymore, which makes it challenging.

JM: What does that mean technically? For example, in the context of this execution place, what’s extant about it?

JS: Well, whatever they had at the time, whether it was a platform or whatever else, obviously doesn’t exist. But elsewhere we’re very much incorporating outdoor spaces, things like Central Park, so this felt just as legitimate. One thing that we originally thought we were going to exclude is the earliest gay rights outdoor protest that ever happened in New York. It was in front of the US Army Induction Center near Battery Park in Lower Manhattan in 1964. The building’s been torn down, but we’ve been rethinking it since the protest happened on the sidewalk in front of the building. That space still exists. That was such a significant event.

It was organized to protest the exclusion and discrimination of gay people in the military. Actually, our first accomplishment, before the website was launched, we got Julius’ Bar listed on the National Register of Historic Places literally one day before the 50th anniversary of the 1966 Sip-in. We specifically did that to show that there was a lot of activism pre-Stonewall. And that wasn’t even one of the earliest protests in New York. People picketed at the United Nations. The Mattachine Society’s Sip-in was probably the first thing that actually had a result because the state liquor authority, whose policies made it illegal to sell known homosexuals a drink, had to back away from enforcement because they got so much negative publicity. There was a psychiatrist speaking at Cooper Union about how gay people could be converted and so on and so forth in the early 60s, so there was a protest there that pre-dated the Sip-in.

Mattachine Society members John Timmons, Dick Leitsch, Craig Rodwell, and Randy Wicker being refused service by the bartender at Julius’, April 21, 1966. Photo by Fred W. McDarrah, courtesy of Estate of Fred W. McDarrah

 

JM: I’ve read that it’s a lot easier to get these places designated when you can point to other work, outside of preservation, that covers the topic. How does your work rely on or coordinate with history-writing more generally?

JS: It makes it easier if certain sites are discussed; the sad fact of the matter is that there’s very little LGBT history out there that’s site-based. Obviously there are things generally on personalities, biographies, general histories. Honing in specifically on Stonewall, at the same time that we published our map for OLGAD, we started a discussion at the National Park Service on having the site listed and we got back a response from the Department of the Interior that was very negative. Absent any other cultural context or precedent, it basically boiled down to: “Why is a ‘riot’ worthy of commemoration? If you people do something positive then maybe that should be commemorated instead.”

Participants of the Stonewall uprising in front of the bar, June 29, 1969. Photo by Fred W. McDarrah, courtesy of Estate of Fred W. McDarrah

 

JM: Wow. So this was in the early 1990s?

JS: That’s right. This is before a group of gay staffers at the Department of the Interior, including a gay Assistant Secretary of the Interior, helped push the nomination forward. Another issue was the fact that to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places you need owner consent, and the owners of the Stonewall were absolutely not interested. The two women considering the nomination at state level worked out an absolutely brilliant, unprecedented concept that allowed it to go forward. They said that if you include not just the Stonewall building but all the streets where the rebellion happened, it could be modeled after a Civil War battlefield, as an outdoor space. The side benefit is that the city of New York now had 50 percent ownership. It wasn’t just the owners of Stonewall. As long as you have 50 percent compliance in a situation like that, it can proceed. So that’s how Stonewall got listed. Thank god they kept it under the radar enough that there wasn’t any political opposition coming out of D.C. Stonewall was the first LGBT-related property listed on the National Register and it was fast-tracked the following year in 2000 to become the first LGBT National Historic Landmark, which is a rarefied subset of buildings that are on the National Register. Up until about three years ago, it was the only LGBT property.

There are over 92,000 properties in the United States listed on the National Register. As we speak there are 16 LGBT-related properties nationally, out of 50 states. Pathetic. We have said for 25 years that if you really analyze the National Register, there are probably thousands of properties already listed that should be interpreted for LGBT history — things like Eleanor Roosevelt’s house at Hyde Park or Willa Cather’s house in Nebraska. None of those are documented or have any mention of the personal history of their occupants. Walt Whitman’s birthplace, his house in Camden, New Jersey — there are hundreds, if not thousands, of places on the National Register that need to be re-interpreted. Only in the last year or two is the National Register allowing that.

JM: That’s interesting that they’re now allowing reinterpretation of existing designations. How does that work?

JS: You can now do a cultural overlay. We recently did a cultural overlay of the Alice Austen House in Staten Island. It was already listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it is even a National Historic Landmark, but the original nomination never mentioned that she was a lesbian and had a 50-year relationship with another woman who lived with her, and it didn’t discuss her as a pioneering female photographer. So that’s what we did for that amendment.

The childhood home of pioneering female photographer Alice Austen, where she later lived with her partner of 53 years, Gertrude Tate. The site’s National Register of Historic Places nomination was amended in 2017 to include Austen and Tate’s relationship. Photo by Alice Austen via the New York Public Library Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy

 

JM: Who is the audience for this project? It’s very clearly about both places that are important for LGBT people as well as places made important by LGBT people.

JS: I’m glad you mentioned that, because we’re the first project in the United States, literally, that thought of it as two-fold. We very much wanted it focused on properties of import to the LGBT communities, but we also wanted to do the flip side, which is to highlight the impact we’ve had on American history and culture. When we first got funding from the National Park Service, I’m sure they didn’t realize that was the focus. Even people in the field of historic preservation or in governmental bodies that deal with such things assumed it would be the equivalent of the way Black civil rights sites have been traditionally designated.

During the height of the culture wars, Fran Lebowitz said, “If you removed all of the homosexuals and homosexual influence from what is generally regarded as American culture, you would pretty much be left with Let’s Make a Deal.” That is the crux of our project. In terms of constituencies, we are aiming at the LGBT community, but we’re also aiming at all the decision-making, governmental bodies. We want this to be a useful database for why properties are important and what properties are in what neighborhoods. We really want it to be used as an educational tool.

JM: Your essay for the National Park Service publication, LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History, discusses the Wilbraham, and in so doing paints the bachelor flat as a type that was leading your team to other sites of significance. Are there other specific examples where cultural heritage becomes represented by a particular architecture?

JS: We have found that there are several building types of significance, parallel to the Wilbraham but for a totally different class of men. Mills House on Bleecker Street was a philanthropic project where working class men could move to New York and stay out of evil boarding houses. But since they (there were several, actually) were built for 100 percent men, it was basically a wonderful place to introduce men coming to New York to gay life. That’s a parallel working-class example to the Wilbraham, which was for very upscale professional and upper-middle-class men. By the same token, the YMCA in Harlem played a very important role for LGBT black men coming to New York who had so few options for a place to stay, much less live for an indeterminate amount of time. The two YMCA buildings on 135th Street face each other — one was the older building and then it became so overcrowded they built what was then considered the country’s most state-of-the-art YMCA right across the street. A number of very prominent LGBT African-American men, including Langston Hughes, are known to have stayed there.

The Harlem YMCA Branch main building, located at West 135th Street, was constructed in 1932. Photo courtesy of University of Minnesota Libraries, Kautz Family YMCA Archives

JS: We have a few sites that were really important for casual meeting places. Stewart’s Cafeteria at Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue South was very popular in the 1930s. It was a late-night place. Cafeterias were places where those with very little money or no money at all could hang out. Horn and Hardart, the automat, fell in that category. There’s a surviving one up at Broadway and 104th Street. It’s a designated landmark I did the report for, a really beautiful polychrome terra cotta building.

JM: Can I ask — since I think it almost goes without saying what the urgency of a project like this is in a political context like the one we have today — what you think might be different about a project like this today, as opposed to if it had been possible to do something similar even 20 years ago?

JS: Wilbraham is a very good example. When I first wrote that, and I had the discussions of why that building type developed because of all the perceived gender threats of single men living in various places in New York by themselves, the then-chair of the Commission absolutely vetoed it. The first comment I got was, “no sex is allowed in our reports.” And it was nothing sexual! It was talking about gender roles and the directly related reason why these buildings were constructed.

JM: Beyond expanding the list, where does the project go from here?

JS: In the short term, we have obligations for a total of seven National Register properties to be listed, which is turning out to be really difficult. So many LGBT-related properties are not architecturally distinguished; it’s far easier dealing with high-style buildings by discernible architects. You still have negative perceptions of people who are building owners but who are not part of the community ­­­— who don’t want to be associated with the community — even through an honorary historic listing. The state of New York is requiring interior access and interior integrity, which is almost insurmountable. Then our current goal is just to keep the project constantly moving and getting more people aware of it and engaged with it, and we’re starting slowly to get nominations from the public.

JM: From the beginning you clearly knew that the website was going to be crucial. What sort of outreach was planned from the start and how much have you discovered after beginning? Was the role of social media always considered?

JS: We had wanted for 25 years to do something else, but we didn’t know exactly what, so we concocted that it’d be a website. We did not want a crowd-sourced project where anybody could pin whatever they wanted. We wanted this to be curated, for a variety of reasons. We didn’t just want people putting really personal stuff, like this is where I met my husband, or the first place I had sex. Nor did we want people putting homophobic stuff on it.

JM: How do you think of the acronym “LGBT”? Is there a Q? Have you come up against any challenges when trying to determine what’s in and what’s out?

JS: The project itself has some very defined boundaries. It’s just the city of New York. It’s just the five boroughs. To be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, there’s a 50-year timeline rule. So Stonewall had to reach way beyond that because it was only 30 when Stonewall was listed. We had to prove extraordinary importance. So we picked 2000 as our cut-off date into the future.

In terms of the naming of the project, the audience is LGBT and Q, but from a historical perspective we didn’t want to include the Q, since the sites are pre-2000. We’ve anticipated somebody questioning us not using the “Q” in the project name. We did it for a whole variety of reasons. You have to be aware that the use of “Q” was still very controversial and not standardized when the project began. The NYC LGBT Center on 13th Street has never officially incorporated Q into the name of the organization, for example. Terminology about sexuality and gender has continually evolved. Heterosexual and homosexual is late 19th century. Bisexual and transgender only started developing in the 20th century and have been used in different contexts for different things. Some people have said: “How can you call someone living in the mid-19th century a lesbian? That term didn’t exist then.” Terminology about gender and sexuality, as everything to do with the LGBT community’s history, is fraught. The more famous the person being labeled, the more controversial.

JM: Are there any sites for which the inclusion has given you pause, due to the possible controversy?

JS: If you look carefully at some of the things online on our website, we’ve purposely pushed a few buttons. But we’re not some sort of gossip site, casually mentioning things just because we want to. It’s all sourced and it’s all cited. People like Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Walt Whitman, Alexander Hamilton, we’ve not steered away from that at all. We’ve purposely included lots of sex sites and things that are sex-related. We’re not trying to steer out of any controversy at all. We want this to come across as relevant to the reality of the today’s America as we believe it is, controversy and all.

Jacob R. Moore is a critic, curator, and editor based in New York. His work has been exhibited internationally and published in various magazines and journals including Artforum, Future Anterior, and the Avery Review, where he is also a contributing editor.

Jay Shockley retired in 2015 as senior historian at the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, where he had worked since 1979, during which time he helped pioneer the concept of recognizing LGBT place-based history by incorporating it into the Commission’s reports. He is a cofounder, together with Andrew S. Dolkart and Ken Lustbader, of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

Click here to read the article on Urban Omnibus.com.

Could Walt Whitman’s Brooklyn Home Become a Landmark?

20171025
By: Susan de Vries

One of America’s most influential 19th century poets, Walt Whitman was a Brooklynite for 28 years and through many changes in career — printer, journalist, teacher. But few physical reminders of his time in the borough remain.

One home connected to Whitman, 99 Ryerson Street in Wallabout, is where he self-published Leaves of Grass, now considered a masterwork of American literature. The modest wood-frame house is not a New York City landmark nor within a local historic district, and one Brooklyn resident is hoping to change that.

Brad Vogel, lawyer, poet and preservationist, was surprised to learn from the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project that Whitman’s home was not already a local landmark. Vogel recently submitting a formal Request For Evaluation (RFE) to the Landmarks Commission to move forward a discussion about the cultural and historic significance of the house.

The simple RFE form offers the general public a way to submit an individual, interior or scenic landmark for consideration — all submissions must be 30 years or older and not already designated within a historic district.

In urging Landmarks to consider the property, Vogel asked that the building not be evaluated on architectural grounds alone or considered with a “rigid adherence to a pristine-architecure-only landmarking mindset.” Indeed, the house, like many pre-Civil War structures in Brooklyn, has been altered over time.

Now covered with vinyl siding, most of the — likely modest — architectural details the building once had are hidden from view. The exact date of construction is unknown, but it was Whitman’s home in 1855 when he published the first version of Leaves of Grass. Whitman continued to revise the work until his death in 1892.

As Brownstoner columnist and preservationist Suzanne Spellen argued in writing about the house, “what makes it special among all the other covered-up, remuddled pre-Civil War houses houses on this block is that it is the last remaining home of the great Brooklyn (and American) poet.” Whitman moved from the home in 1862 and left Brooklyn altogether in the 1870s.

Vogel has reached out to other preservationists to weigh in on the matter. In a letter of support for Vogel’s RFE submission, the Historic Districts Council asked for serious consideration of the house for its “great cultural significance,” noting that while the house has been altered, “one cannot restore what is not there, and that is why it is imperative that this building remain standing.”

A few other memorials here honor Brooklyn’s poet. There is a plaque on the exterior of the Eagle Warehouse which was constructed on the original location of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, where Whitman once worked.

His poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” is inscribed along the railings of Fulton Ferry Landing and Walt Whitman Park is located off Cadman Plaza East in Downtown Brooklyn. Not far from Whitman’s house, the Walt Whitman Houses, a NYCHA development, bear the acclaimed author’s name.

There is a historic sited dedicated to Whitman on Long Island. The small Huntington Station farmhouse where Whitman was born, in 1819, and where he lived until moving to Brooklyn at the age of four was saved in the 1950s and is now a state historic site.

While Landmarks considers the RFE, Vogel hopes the idea of preserving Whitman’s home will stir the imagination of New Yorkers and lead to more thorough scholarship about the house.

“We’re going to need to rely in large part on a groundswell of public outcry,” Vogel told Brownstoner. “Imagine if this building were demolished five years from now because we did not act: We would lose one of the city’s only remaining tangible links to Walt Whitman and one of America’s most celebrated literary works.”

All photos by Susan de Vries for Brownstoner, with exception of Instagram post by Brad Vogel (@bowerybird) and image of Walt Whitman circa 1854 (via Library of Congress).

Click here to read the article on Brownstoner.com.

#LGBTHistoryMonth with Teachers College at Columbia University

20171010
By: Jackie Heltz

From EdLab at Teachers College at Columbia University.

Beginning in 1994, the month of October (February in the UK) was declared LGBT History month; a 31-day observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history and the history of the gay rights and civil rights movements.

As luck would have it, NLT is right on trend with the publication of this week’s Seen in NY episode: NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. Founded by three graduates of the Columbia University Historic Preservation Program, the initiative is the first to “document historic and cultural sites associated with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in the five boroughs. ” Sites shed light on an otherwise invisible history and explore everything from theatres to bars, museums, residences, monuments, and even education institutions including Columbia University which was home to the first gay student organization in the nation back in 1967.

As an added bonus, I was invited to join a private NYC LGBT Historic Sites walking tour of the Greenwich Village. Over the course of about 90 minutes we covered nearly 50 sites including Eleanor Roosevelt’s apartment, Judson Memorial Church, the Little Red Schoolhouse, and Julius’– a bar brought into the public eye as the site of the 1966 Sip-In which was responsible for the state liquor authority’s reversal of its discriminatory policies against serving openly gay patrons.

We hope you’ll check out and share tomorrow’s SiNY!

Documenting and celebrating lesbian nightlife in NYC

20171011
By: Karen Loew

In all of New York City, four lesbian bars: Henrietta Hudson’s and the Cubby Hole, both in the West Village; Ginger’s in Park Slope, Brooklyn; and the Bum Bum Bar (pronounced boom-boom), in Woodside, Queens.

Artist Gwen Shockey is documenting the dwindling number of spaces in New York City dedicated to lesbian nightlife. CityLab spoke with Shockey, on the occasion of her recent exhibition “No Man’s Land” at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, and with our own Ken Lustbader about the “grassroots” research Shockey employs, through archival research, oral histories and photography.

 

 

Preserving the Meaning of Lesbian Bars

As gay people and places are more accepted than ever, their bars are dwindling in number—especially for women. Now artists are documenting what these spaces mean to the community.

 

Photo: The bar at Henrietta Hudson’s in New York, photo by Karen Loew.

We rolled through the doors of Henrietta Hudson’s early on a weekend night. It was well before the club became electric, but my new pal Angola was already excited. “I gotta look around,” she said as we entered the first of three rooms, complete with dance floor, pool table, two bars, and seating nooks. “This is like the Vatican.”

Somehow, neither Angola nor I had visited Henrietta’s before. This venerable “bar and girl” in Manhattan’s West Village is one of only four lesbian bars still open for business in all of New York City. That sounds shocking until you learn that San Francisco has none at all. This fact is part of the reason we finally stopped by: It was a celebration following the opening of “No Man’s Land,” an artwork exhibition by Gwen Shockey on display at New York’s Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. Her multimedia piece, installed for just one weekend in late September, responds to the reality of the dwindling number of spaces dedicated to lesbian nightlife.

At a time when gay people and places are more accepted than ever, the number of gay bars is declining. The decrease is far starker for women’s bars, because there were never as many of those in the first place. The causes include the “mainstreaming” that allows LGBTQ people to mingle elsewhere, the prevalence of hook-up apps, and the high cost of urban real estate. The circumstances vary in each place; some surmise, for example, that San Diego still sustains two lesbian bars because it’s a military town and a port town.

Scenes from the ‘No Man’s Land’ installation. Left: A video of Henrietta Hudson’s exterior. Right: A recreation of Henrietta Hudson’s restroom doors, with signs labeled “Whichever.” (Karen Loew)

Shockey’s exhibit echoes the scenes of New York’s four remaining lesbian bars. It feels like a bar in its own right: Lights are low, disco balls glint, drinks are poured, music plays, and visitors mingle. In the room with them are four unattached walls that represent the bars. On one side of each wall, a video shows a bar’s exterior; on the other side is a recreation of that bar’s bathroom doors. These four bars are Henrietta’s; the Cubby Hole, also in the West Village; Ginger’s in Park Slope, Brooklyn; and the Bum Bum Bar (pronounced boom-boom), in Woodside, Queens.

Shockey’s work laps into the realms of history, sociology, and preservation. Through recorded interviews with lesbians of every age and station, she’s learned about some 90 past bars and parties in New York, and photographed many of the addresses. Some of these interviews and prints will be included in her upcoming show in Brooklyn. Next, she’d like to make a book out of her photos and interviews, along with the histories she’s uncovered.

With this project, Shockey joins other gay artists whose work includes documenting the gay physical world, past and present—artists as concerned with spaces as with the body. Edie Fake makes intricate architectural drawings of real and imagined queer spaces from his native Chicago. Kaucyila Brooke has recorded and mapped past and present lesbian bars in three California cities, as well as Cologne, Germany. A faculty member at the California Institute of the Arts, Brooke says she began her ongoing project, “The Boy Mechanic,” in 1996 because, “It just felt pressing.” She wanted to capture the memories of places before they were lost—even though many of the places themselves weren’t much to look at.

Still, they must be seen, so Brooke took up documenting vernacular architecture: the everyday, often undistinguished structures that fill so much of the built environment.

“You have buildings that are designed to be something, by an architect,” she says. “But lesbian bars were usually something else before. And the bar owner tries to change the interior. This architecture that gets adapted and turned into something… is just interesting to me in terms of reusing things.”

It’s part of the “thrift economy” that expresses the “fugitive” nature of space for women and lesbians. Lesbian bars generally have understated facades, for example, in order to draw less attention from hostile men or police authorities.

Her photographs, videos, and other media have “to do with space, instead of looking at the body. Can you recognize anything by looking at a space? [Like] the difference between the surface and what’s underneath it, or inside of it?”

People who are trained in just that kind of detective work launched another effort—with more history, less art—two years ago. A team of historic preservation professionals is behind the NYC LGBT Sites Project, which aims to become an all-encompassing documentation of places where LGBT people have gathered—particularly when they illuminate the community’s impact on American culture. The project’s goal of “making an invisible history visible” is enriched by all kinds of participation, says Co-Director Ken Lustbader.

“We are really interested in having people understand the visceral connection to a location,” Lustbader said. “One of the most interesting ways that this [documentation] is being done is by the enthusiasts, and the more grassroots historians.”

That includes Shockey’s trove of interviews, Hugh Ryan’s research on the queer Brooklyn waterfront, or any number of entertaining Instagram accounts. In fact, it seems possible that whether rooted in New Orleans or floating on the internet, the diverse collectors of this invisible history are just getting started.

Because one thing’s for sure, lesbian bars are still essential. The heartbreaking words of interviewees in Brooke’s San Diego video still ring true. “Everybody out there was against us. And we would go into this little dark place, it was a bar, and find each other. And become friends. And care about each other,” one woman says.

“It was just nice to be in an environment where you could just be free. And just relax,” says another.

Ask the tall, skinny dyke from New Zealand who was having a high time at Henrietta Hudson’s on her very first night in New York City, already kissing a pretty girl and taking recommendations on where to find the best fried chicken. Or the handsome trans woman, recently moved to NYC from North Carolina, who happily accepted Angola’s offer to “be her gay mom” (and, impressively, set off to visit the three other lesbian bars in a single night). Or the bar patron who received advice from E., the mellow-fabulous bartender, on how to get a traditional male barber to cut a woman’s hair. Or anyone on the soon-crowded dance floor, if you could peel them away.

Lesbian and bisexual women of every description were free, and relaxed, and finding each other. It’s a thing of the present, not just the past.

Click to read the article on CityLab.


 

Featured in new LGBTQ design and lifestyle magazine

20170924
By: Deborah L. Martin

Exuberance, New York’s first LGBTQ luxury design and lifestyle magazine, has just premiered its first issue … and there we are, on page 40! Our sincere thanks to the editorial team at Exuberance for introducing your readership to the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

And be sure to flip to the end for a special tribute to the Stonewall National Monument (page 98).

Click here to read Exuberance online.

Featured imaged: “Gay Liberation,” sculpted by George Segal and unveiled in Christopher Park in 1992. Featured on page 98 of Exuberance magazine.

 

20-site Greenwich Village walking tour conveys Stonewall uprising’s pivotal history

20170929
By: Tanay Warerkar

From Curbed.com

Earlier today, the National Parks Conservation Association launched a walking tour that’s dedicated to telling the story behind the 1969 Stonewall uprising and the subsequent fight for LGBTQ rights.

This self-guided walking tour will include 20 different stops near and around the Stonewall Inn (now a national monument), in the Greenwich Village area. In creating this walking tour, the NPCA partnered with NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project and built on their groundbreaking work identifying sites of historic importance to the LGBTQ community in the city.

“Stonewall isn’t just a building, it’s the birthplace of an important movement,” Cortney Worrall, the Northeast senior regional director for NPCA, said in a statement. “And the supporting role the surrounding neighborhood played in this movement can only fully be understood by walking the streets and reliving how the uprising unfolded. This is how we remember our painful past, and what keeps our country from repeating it.”

Stops on this tour include the former home of the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop (the country’s first LGBTQ bookstore) on Christopher Street; Julius’ Bar, where the Mattachine Society held a “sip-in” to protest the State Liquor Authority’s policy of revoking licenses from bars that served lesbians and gay men; and the snake pit, a basement bar that too was raided less than a year after the Stonewall uprising.

“Our mission is to make the invisible history of New York City’s LGBT community, which can be felt throughout the city but particularly here in Greenwich Village, a visible and better understood facet of our city’s historical fabric,” Jay Shockley, co-director of the Historic Sites Project, said in a statement.

Read the original article on Curbed.com.

National Historic Designation of Staten Island’s Alice Austen House to Include LGBTQ Status

20170629

 

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is pleased to have amended the National Register listing of the Alice Austen House to reflect her importance to American photography and her 50 year relationship with Gertrude Tate. We’re working to ensure that these hidden narratives become known since LGBT history is American history.”

— Andrew Dolkart, lead listing author and Project co-director

Read the complete article.

Video: Tour historic LGBT sites in Greenwich Village, from Stonewall and beyond

20170629

WATCH as we tour Greenwich Village sites significant to LGBT history in NYC, The Stonewall Inn, Julius’ bar, Fedora and more.

Interview: The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project Talks Gay History and Advocacy in NYC

June 28, 2017

We spoke with 6sqft about Pride Month, the origins of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project and the future of gay advocacy in NYC. Read the full article.

Explore Brooklyn’s LGBT History at Six Historic Sites

20170626

Many thanks to Brownstoner for highlighting our Brooklyn entries, including: Truman Capote’s Home, Transy House, Lesbian Herstory Archives, Green-Wood Cemetery, Starlight Lounge and Walt Whitman House! Enjoy reading this article!

Photo: Trans activist Slyvia Rivera, center, of the Transy House in Park Slope / photo by Luis Carle/National Portrait Gallery/Smithsonian.

10 Notable Sites, featured by Untapped Cities

June 23, 2017

 

Which LGBT performance venue bills itself as “the oldest collectively-run performance space for women and/or trans artists in the known universe?” Cruise through this great round-up of Project entries from Untapped Cities.

 
Photo: Protestors at the Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day, via New York Public Library.

 

25 Historic LGBTQ Sites to Visit

June 21, 2017

Curbed NY has mapped 25 LGBT historic sites to visit before the Pride March this Sunday … or any time of year! New sites mapped since the maps initial release last year, so be sure to click through and see historic sites such as: The Stonewall Inn, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, Julius’s bar, Lesbian Herstory Archives, Alice Austen House Museum, NYC AIDS Memorial, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, Judson Memorial Church, Cubbyhole bar, and Housing Works Bookstore Cafe.

Explore the map.

New York’s L.G.B.T.Q. Story Began Well Before Stonewall

20170619

We spoke with The New York Times about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement before — and beyond — The Stonewall Inn:

“L.G.B.T. history is American history, and the contributions of L.G.B.T. Americans to the wider culture have been huge. If you took them away I don’t know what America would look like.”

Read the full article here. Then, watch the #Daily360 video published as follow-up to this terrific article, by Liam Stack.

Video: We are Proud

20170615

As part of ABC7’s coverage of the 48th NYC Pride March, we were featured as one of the station’s vignettes about various people and groups who are remembering the past and celebrating the community’s strides this Pride Month.

 

Preservationists Create Interactive Map of Historic LGBT Sites in NYC

20170501

Today we were featured on Towleroad.

Preservationists Launch Interactive Map of Historic Sites of LGBT Activism and Culture

20170424

We were picked up by Joe. My. God. in this article.

Explore NYC’s Rich History with a New Interactive Map

May 3, 2017

Today we were featured in Travel + Leisure.

Our co-director Jay Shockley pointed out that “Part of our project is to reinterpret American history through an LGBT lens” and that “One major aspect of our project is to prove that there’s a lot of history before Stonewall.”

Our co-director Ken Lustbader also shared that “One of the issues is really to make sure we are getting the diverse representation of the LGBT community,” which we are working on through research and community outreach.

See New York’s Historic LGBT Sites in a New Interactive Map

April 24, 2017

Our work was picked up in Curbed New York, which you can read in full via this link.

NYC’s Hidden LGBT Historic Sites Get Illuminated on Interactive Map

April 24, 2017

Thanks to DNA Info for covering our interactive map in their recent article.

Our co-director Ken Lustbader notes in the piece that “We’re talking about LGBT history, which is often covert, hidden, transitory, dismissed,” and that our project is “not just self-referential. It’s showing that LGBT history is American history.”

Kerry McCarthy of the New York Community Trust, one of our project partners, says that the project “shows so much of the contributions [that] LGBT members have made to the society at large.” She added, “If history is written by the victors and no one writes your history you remain invisible.”

Explore Historic LGBT Sites in NYC

20170329

Today we launched our interactive map of 100 LGBT historic sites across the five boroughs of NYC! This is only the beginning. We have hundreds of sites in our database waiting to be researched and added to the map.

While we work on that, we wanted to thank 6sqft, a blog of City Realty, for covering the launch of our project and for highlighting some of the features you’ll find on our website. You can read the article over at 6sqft.

Mapping Where LGBT History Unfolded in New York

20160722

In this article from City Lab, the Atlantic’s urbanism website, project directors Andrew Dolkart and Ken Lustbader talk about the importance of documenting LGBT history in New York. The piece also discusses other LGBT preservation efforts around the country.

Read the full article via City Lab.

NYC Pride: Tracing the History of NYC’s Gay Neighborhoods from Past to Present

June 30, 2016

Following President Obama’s designation of Stonewall National Monument last week, the Brick Underground ran a story on the changing nature of gay neighborhoods over the years. Project co-director Ken Lustbader weighs in at the end of the piece about the importance of documenting LGBT history beyond the well-known sites such as Stonewall.

Read the full story via the Brick Underground.

The Oldest Gay Bars in New York

20160625

The Daily Beast explores some of the oldest sites in New York that we would identify today as gay bars. These are all places that our project has uncovered since our work began last year. Ken Lustbader, our project co-director, and George Chauncey, author of Gay New York and a member of our advisory committee, are quoted in the piece.

Read the whole article via The Daily Beast.

Meet the Preservationists Who Are Cataloging NYC’s LGBT History

June 24, 2016

In this article from Curbed, our project co-director Ken Lustbader discusses our research process and the kinds of LGBT historic sites we are documenting around the five boroughs. He says, “More than anything we want this project to be fun and to provoke curiosity. There was a strong, thriving LGBT community in New York even before Stonewall, and it has had a direct impact on American culture. Our project is just one of the many ways to tell those stories.” The piece also covers our recent pride flagging events at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn and Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

Read the whole story via Curbed.

New York’s Oldest Gay Bar Approved for Landmark Status

April 21, 2016

Thanks to the Washington Blade for its continuing coverage of our nomination of Julius’ to the National Register of Historic Places! In the article, project co-director Ken Lustbader said, “We’re thrilled that it is officially listed and that the National Park Service added another site recognizing LGBT history and allowing LGBT history to stand alongside American History.”

Read the full story via the Washington Blade.

New York’s Oldest Gay Bar Nominated for Landmark Status

April 14, 2016

The Washington Blade covered our nomination of Julius’ to the National Register of Historic Places and featured excerpts from our report.

Read the full story via the Washington Blade.

Beyond Stonewall: Five More New York LGBT History Sites

20160412

The National Trust for Historic Preservation helped highlight our work by featuring five historic sites in New York City associated with LGBT history. All of these places, plus many more, will be featured on our interactive map once it launches in the near future.

See which sites were featured on the National Trust’s blog.

Activists Work to Give Official Designation to Historic LGBT Sites

20150619

Our co-directors Andrew Dolkart and Ken Lustbader spoke with NY1 about the importance of reinterpreting sites for their LGBT history, citing one example of Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. Kerry McCarthy of the New York Community Trust, one of our lead grant supporters, also spoke about the importance of our project.

Read the full story and watch the video on the NY1 website.

Sites of Resistance: Mapping LGBTQ History with New York City Preservationists

20150616

Before our project officially launched in August 2015, the American Historical Association interviewed our co-director Jay Shockley on the importance of our project.

Read the full story on the blog of the American Historical Association.