overview

Many New York City public schools are named in honor of prominent figures in American and world history.

James Baldwin School, in Manhattan, inadvertently honors an LGBT individual.

Header Photo
Credit: New York Daily News.

History

Many New York City public schools are named in honor of prominent figures in American and world history. The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project compiled a list of the 25 public schools named after gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals, although only one — Harvey Milk High School — intentionally honors an LGBT individual. This list includes James Baldwin School, in Manhattan.

Author and civil rights activist James Baldwin (1924-1987), born and raised in Harlem, moved to Greenwich Village in 1943. He left for Paris in 1948 to escape the racism he endured in New York City, and would spend much of the rest of his life in France, but also frequently returned to New York. Through his writing, televised appearances, and public speaking here and abroad, Baldwin became a critical voice for the Black civil rights movement and brought attention to racial issues in the United States. In 1965, at the height of his fame, he moved into a rowhouse on the Upper West Side. Baldwin is considered the first major Black writer since the Harlem Renaissance to speak and write about same-sex relationships. This began with his groundbreaking second novel, Giovanni’s Room, published in 1956.

Sites on this website associated with Baldwin include his Horatio Street residence and the San Remo Cafe, in Greenwich Village, his West 71st Street residence, on the Upper West Side, and the 135th Street Branch, The New York Public Library, in Harlem.

This building was constructed as the Textile High School.

Building Information

  • Architect or Builder: Walter C. Martin
  • Year Built: 1929-30

Sources

  1. Aisha Karefa-Smart, “Foreword: The Prodigal Son,” African American Review 46.4 (Winter 2013), 559.

  2. Christopher D. Brazee, Gale Harris, and Jay Shockley, “150 Years of LGBT History,” New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, 2014.

  3. Daniel Hurewitz, Stepping Out: Nine Walks Through New York City’s Gay and Lesbian Past (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1997).

  4. David Leeming, James Baldwin: A Biography (New York: Knopf, 1994).

  5. Douglas Field, James Baldwin (Devon, UK: Northcote House Publishers, 2011). [source of Field quote, p. 48]

  6. “James Baldwin (1987),” Mavis on 4, Channel Four, March 23, 1987. [source of pull quote]

  7. Paula Martinac, The Queerest Places: A National Guide to Gay and Lesbian Historic Sites (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1997).

  8. Richard Goldstein, “Go the Way Your Blood Beats: An Interview with James Baldwin,” The Village Voice, June 26, 1984, 13-14.

  9. W.J. Weatherby, James Baldwin: Artist on Fire (New York: Dutton Adult, 1989).

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Curated Themes

25 Sites

LGBT-Named Public Schools

Other Sites in the Neighborhood

333 West 17th Street
Lavender Menace Action at Second Congress to Unite Women
Organization & Community Spaces
318 West 22nd Street
Mel Cheren Residence / Gay Men’s Health Crisis Office
Residences
149 West 14th Street
Kooky’s
Bars, Clubs & Restaurants