overview

This collection features historic places associated with Black LGBT Americans in the five boroughs.

Sites include residences of notable figures in American history, important community and activist spaces, and bars and nightlife spots.

These stories also highlight people such as trans activist Marsha P. Johnson, civil rights attorney and author Pauli Murray, sculptor Richmond Barthé, lesbian feminist, writer, and activist Audre Lorde, and novelist and activist James Baldwin.

Header Photo
Life partners Lillian Foster and Mabel Hampton, who lived together in the Bronx, 1976. Source: Lesbian Herstory Archives, Herstories Audio/Visual Collections.

Featured Historic Sites ( 48 )

A
103-105 West 135th Street

During the Harlem Renaissance, the New York Public Library’s 135th Street Branch served as an intellectual and artistic center for African Americans, including the likes of Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen,... Learn More

B
20 West 112th Street

Many New York City public schools are named in honor of prominent figures in American and world history. Alain L. Locke School of Arts and Engineering (Public School 185), in... Learn More

C
133 West 138th Street

From 1927 to at least 1945, the closeted blues singer Alberta Hunter owned an apartment in this Harlem building. During this time period, she was a prolific recording artist, performed... Learn More

D
East 135th Street & Fifth Avenue

Ali Forney was a homeless gender non-conforming youth of color who, on December 5, 1997, was killed near the housing project on East 135th Street and Fifth Avenue in Harlem.... Learn More

E
89 East 2nd Street

The gay, African American photographer Alvin Baltrop captured the unfolding LGBT life at the West Side piers and elsewhere in New York after the 1969 Stonewall uprising, though his captivating... Learn More

F
416 West 146th Street

From 1926 to 1930 and 1934 to 1935, Amaza Lee Meredith, an educator and, later, one of the first Black woman architects, stayed with her sister’s family in this Harlem... Learn More

G
253 West 125th Street

During the Apollo Theater’s heyday as a showcase for Black performers from the 1930s into the 1970s, nearly every important African-American entertainer played here, including many LGBT stars. In the... Learn More

H
360 West 22nd Street

From 1981 until his death from AIDS-related complications in 1994, Assotto Saint lived in apartment 2D of this Chelsea building with his life partner, Jan Urban Holmgren. As a Haitian-born... Learn More

I
207 St. Paul's Avenue

Acclaimed Black lesbian feminist, writer, and activist Audre Lorde lived here with her partner, Frances Clayton, and two children from 1972 to 1987. While here, Lorde was a prolific writer... Learn More

J
85 South Oxford Street

The groundbreaking Audre Lorde Project (ALP), founded in 1994, has been located in the parish house of Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, since 1996. Credited as the... Learn More

K
432 West 14th Street

A portion of the ground floor and part of the basement of this former market building in the Meatpacking District was the home of Bar Room 432 from 1990 to... Learn More

L
Building 7, Penn South

Bayard Rustin, one of the most important yet little-known figures of the Black civil rights movement, lived in an apartment in this Chelsea building complex from 1962 to 1987 (his... Learn More

M
462 First Avenue

From the 1930s to the 1970s, for LGBT and especially trans people, Bellevue Hospital was synonymous with medical experimentation and involuntary incarceration. In 1970, the Gay Liberation Front sponsored a... Learn More

N
114 Kosciuszko Street

Many New York City public schools are named in honor of prominent figures in American and world history. Benjamin Banneker Public School 256, in Brooklyn, inadvertently honors an LGBT individual. Learn More

O
315 Convent Avenue

Jazz great Billy Strayhorn lived here with his partner, jazz pianist Aaron Bridgers, from 1939 to 1948, though Strayhorn stayed until 1950. During these years, the openly gay Strayhorn forged... Learn More

P
1 Sheridan Square

Café Society, what has been billed as New York’s first integrated club, featured many of the jazz giants and singers of the day, including Billie Holiday and Sister Rosetta Tharpe,... Learn More

Q
104 West 136th Street

Renamed for the noted gay poet Countee Cullen in 1951, this library was the first in the New York Public Library system to be named in honor of an African... Learn More

R
160-164 West 129th Street

A rare surviving Harlem building that hosted drag balls, the Imperial Lodge of Elks (also referred to as the Elks Lodge) was prominently featured in the documentary Paris Is Burning (1990), which... Learn More

S
70 Grove Street

The commercial space of this building held several lesbian bars from the 1970s to the 1990s, beginning with the Duchess in 1972. Pandora’s Box, the last lesbian bar to occupy... Learn More

T
1890 Seventh Avenue

Edna Thomas, one of the earliest Black actors of the New York stage, came to prominence during the Harlem Renaissance and was pivotal in the development of serious African American... Learn More

U
437 East 12th Street

Ernestine Eckstein was an influential lesbian of color who was active in the LGBT rights movement in the pre-Stonewall years. While living in this tenement building, from 1964 until 1968,... Learn More

V
486 Greenwich Street

From 1976 until his death in 2018, Geoffrey Hendricks, a painter and early gay performance artist central to Fluxus, lived in this rowhouse with his two long-term partners, first with... Learn More

W
320 Manhattan Avenue

From 1935 until sometime between 1940 and 1942, the Black lesbian couple Georgette Harvey and Musa Williams lived at the Lafayette Apartments in Harlem, where they frequently entertained theater notables... Learn More

X
Christopher Street Pier

For over a century, the Greenwich Village waterfront along the Hudson River, including the Christopher Street Pier at West 10th and West Streets, has been a destination for the LGBT... Learn More

Y
2144 Fifth Avenue

Between 1926 and 1931, openly gay Alexander Gumby operated the Gumby Book Studio, one of the preeminent literary and artistic salons of the Harlem Renaissance, on the second floor of... Learn More

Z
180 West 135th Street

The 135th Street Branch of the YMCA (now the Harlem YMCA) and the original West 135th Street Branch across the street were among Harlem’s most important recreational and cultural centers... Learn More

AA
695 Lenox Avenue

For about 25 years, beginning in 1920, countless African-American travelers stayed at the renowned Hotel Olga in Harlem. In the 1920s, two known LGBT guests included Alain Locke, the “Dean”... Learn More

AB
110 Second Avenue

In 1874, the Women’s Prison Association (WPA), responsible for many notable reform accomplishments for imprisoned women, opened the Isaac T. Hopper Home in this rowhouse, which is considered the world’s... Learn More

AC
240 West 38th Street

In 1986, Black fashion designer Isaia, known for his use of Lycra to create body-conscious styles for women, moved his clothing label to a loft in this building just as... Learn More

AD
137 West 71st Street

Literary icon and civil rights activist James Baldwin used this Upper West Side remodeled rowhouse as his New York City residence from 1965 until his death in 1987. Although he... Learn More

AE
114 West 116th Street

From 1939 to 1942, the internationally popular African American cabaret singer Jimmie Daniels owned and operated his eponymous Harlem supper club on the ground floor of this building (after he... Learn More

AF
301 West 39th Street

La Escuelita (the “Little School”), an LGBT nightclub known for its Latin House music, drag shows, and balls, opened c. 1970 and had several locations, all on the west side.... Learn More

AG
20 East 127th Street

Langston Hughes, celebrated poet and leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance, lived on the top floor of this Harlem rowhouse from 1947 to 1967. While here, Hughes wrote many notable... Learn More

AH
337 Bleecker Street

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... Learn More

AI
639 East 169th Street

Mabel Hampton was an African-American performer during the Harlem Renaissance and, in the 1970s and 1980s, a key member of the Lesbian Herstory Archives. An icon of the New York... Learn More

AJ
90 Kent Avenue

Marsha P. Johnson was a Black trans activist and Stonewall veteran who became a key figure in the gay liberation movement after the Stonewall uprising, specifically fighting for trans rights... Learn More

AK
10 Bleecker Street

Medusa’s Revenge, the pioneering lesbian multicultural performance and community space, was founded by Cuban exiles Ana María Simo and Magaly Alabau in 1976. Located in the vast basement of this... Learn More

AL
45 Belmont Place

The Jamaican-born author Michelle Cliff was living in this two-family house when she graduated from nearby Curtis High School in 1965. In later years, when she became a prominent writer,... Learn More

AM
28 East 125th Street

Between the 1920s and 2003, when it was closed by New York City officials, the Mt. Morris Baths was an important social center for gay African-American men and one of... Learn More

AN
170 West 130th Street

Beginning in the 1920s, this Harlem rowhouse was home to a number of important Black social and political organizations. Most notably, it served as the National Headquarters for the March... Learn More

AO
84 King Street

Between 1977 and 1987, the Paradise Garage was one of the most important and influential clubs in New York City with a devoted patronage comprised of sexual and ethnic minorities... Learn More

AP
388 Chauncey Street

From 1947 to 1960, the prominent Black civil rights attorney and author Pauli Murray lived in an apartment on the top floor of this building. During those years she compiled... Learn More

AQ
82 West 3rd Street

This building housed three subsequent Mafia-owned establishments from the 1960s to 1981, starting with the Pompier Restaurant. Tenth of Always operated on the raised ground floor here from around 1968... Learn More

AR
Kingsborough Houses

Sculptor Richmond Barthé created this 8-foot by 80-foot frieze Exodus and Dance (completed in 1939) for the Harlem River Houses, which was later named Green Pastures: The Walls of Jericho and installed at the... Learn More

AS
515 Malcolm X Boulevard

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture houses one of the country’s most significant collections of African American history and the African Diaspora, including the records of LGBT notables... Learn More

AT
1084 Bergen Street

In 1962, openly gay African-American entrepreneur Harold “Mackie” Harris purchased the Starlite Lounge and established it as an LGBT-inclusive bar. Before being forced to close in 2010 after the building... Learn More

AU
222 West 23rd Street

Stormé DeLarverie, a biracial singer, male impersonator, activist, and bouncer, lived on the seventh floor of the Chelsea from the early 1970s until 2010. See the Chelsea Hotel and the... Learn More

AV
135 & 133 West 4th Street

The congregation of this former church was led by the pioneering, openly gay Reverend Paul M. Abels from 1973 to 1984. The church and neighboring parish house also provided meeting... Learn More