Early Community Centers
Before the 1983 opening of the LGBT Community Center at 208 West 13th Street in Greenwich Village, a number of important social and political spaces that served as an alternative to the (often Mafia-run) bar scene were established in New York City.
Earliest known community centers before and immediately after Stonewall were housed in office and retail spaces, former firehouses, and LGBT-welcoming churches.
While the curated collection below primarily features historic sites in downtown Manhattan, we will be adding more to the map from around the city as we uncover them.
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Featured Historic Sites ( 12 )
Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square in the 1960s and 1970s was home to avant-garde arts groups, and a site for lesbian and gay political gatherings. With the emergence of... Learn More
The Corduroy Club, located here from March 1967 to 1971, was a significant effort by the pre-Stonewall LGBT community in New York to have a social space that was outside... Learn More
Gay rights activist Craig Rodwell established the East Coast’s first gay and lesbian bookstore (and the first one in the nation to operate long term), named in memory of Oscar... Learn More
From 1969 to 1974, the Church of the Holy Apostles in Chelsea was one of the most important meeting places in New York City for organizations of the early post-Stonewall... Learn More
After the Stonewall rebellion in June 1969, the first LGBT activist organization formed was the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), in July. GLF used Alternate U., a free counterculture school and... Learn More
Tony Pastor’s Downtown, in business from 1939 to 1967, had a mixed clientele of lesbians and tourists, and some gay men. It had shows of female impersonators (a term used... Learn More
The Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) formed in December 1969 and became the most influential American gay liberation political activist organization in the early 1970s. From 1971 to 1974, GAA used this... Learn More
In 1972, friends Leonard Ebreo and Alice Bloch co-founded Liberation House, an early post-Stonewall community center that provided health services to the LGBT community. It was also the first home of... Learn More
The Metropolitan Community Church was founded to minister to the LGBT community whose members were not welcome in most churches. The New York congregation held its first service in 1972... Learn More
This building in the Meatpacking District was the longest home of the West Side Discussion Group, which met here from 1972 to 1978. The group, generally made up of an... Learn More
In the early 1970s, the Women’s Liberation Center was founded as an important meeting space for many women’s groups, including those that specifically served the lesbian community. The Center operated... Learn More
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