overview

From at least the late 1950s to the late 1970s, Staten Island’s popular Mayfair Bar & Grill catered to gay patrons.

It was one of a few gay and lesbian bars located on the island in the latter half of the 20th century.

Header Photo
Credit: Amanda Davis/NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, 2016.

History

By the mid-20th century, this corner building across the street from Staten Island Borough Hall was the location of a popular restaurant, known variously as the Mayfair Bar & Grill, the Mayfair Restaurant & Bar, or the Mayfair Tavern.

Based on an FBI report, the Mayfair catered to a gay crowd by the late 1950s. A 1969 guidebook created by the Mattachine Society described the restaurant as attracting a “sweater crowd” (a white-collar crowd). It also reveals that the Mayfair was “mixed” (meaning that both gay and straight people came here), though the space turned into a gay bar in the evening. During the day, it catered to people who worked in the area. According to James Hanlon, a Staten Island resident who went to the Mayfair as a college student in the early 1970s, lesbians did not typically patronize this bar and instead went to the Beach Haven in Midland Beach.

The Mayfair continued to draw gay patrons through at least the late 1970s, according to a listing in the 1978-1979 Guild Guide.

Since that time, the building has been extensively altered.

Building Information

  • Architect or Builder: Unknown
  • Year Built: 1935

Sources

  1. Guild Guide, 1978-1979, Archives of Sexuality and Gender, The New York Public Library.

  2. James Hanlon, NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project site submission form, June 18, 2019.

  3. New York City Gay Scene Guide, Mattachine Book Service, 1968 and 1969.

  4. Philip Crawford, Jr., The Mafia and the Gays, self-published, 2015.

  5. Staten Island 350th Anniversary Committee, Discovering Staten Island: A 350th Anniversary Commemorative History (Charleston: The History Press, 2011).

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