overview

This curated collection highlights sites associated with (mostly former) businesses run by LGBT people in New York City.

LGBT entrepreneurs created welcoming spaces for their communities by opening bars, clubs, restaurants, bathhouses, self-defense centers, and bookshops.

Sites such as Isaia NYC Fashion House, F.W.I.L. Lundy Brothers Restaurant, and the Modulightor Building housed businesses that were owned and operated by gay people, but did not necessarily cater specifically to LGBT clientele.

Header Photo caption

Craig Rodwell (third from left), owner of Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, with his staff outside 15 Christopher Street, the store’s second location, June 1983 (cropped). Photographer unknown. Courtesy of the Craig Rodwell Papers, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library.

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Featured Historic Sites (25)

A
432 West 14th Street
This former market building in the Meatpacking District was a popular 1990s nightlife venue for several weekly parties and performances, including Jackie 60, Clit Club, and Martha @ Mother. In... Learn More
B
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. The famed... Learn More
C
331 Flatbush Avenue
Open from 1980 to early 1983, La Papaya was a lesbian-owned vegetarian restaurant and the only feminist restaurant in New York City at this time. La Papaya featured Brooklyn’s sole... Learn More
D
33 Barrow Street
Labyris, where the “The Future is Female” slogan was coined, was the first feminist bookstore in New York City. Owned and operated by lesbians from 1972 to 1977, this bookstore... Learn More
E
269 East Houston Street
In 1996, Meow Mix opened as a sex-positive lesbian club known for its live music, though it is best remembered for its appearance in the 1997 film Chasing Amy. It... Learn More
F
246 East 58th Street
The Modulightor Building, built between 1989 and 1992, was designed by iconic modernist Paul Rudolph, who incorporated new construction into the pre-existing four-story structure; two additional stories were added to... Learn More
G
342 West 11th Street
Mother Courage was the first feminist restaurant in the United States. Owned and operated by Dolores Alexander and Jill Ward from 1972 to 1977, this restaurant primarily attracted lesbian and... Learn More
H
15 Christopher Street
In 1973, Craig Rodwell moved his Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, the first gay and lesbian bookstore on the East Coast (and the first of its kind in the nation to... Learn More
I
291 Mercer Street
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
J
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
K
254 West 54th Street
In 1977, Studio 54 opened and became one of the world’s most famous discos with a fusion of gay, bisexual, and straight patrons. Owners Steven Rubell and Ian Schrager modeled... Learn More
L
105 Second Avenue
Referred to as the “Vatican of Disco,” The Saint was a gay, members-only club located in the East Village that operated between September 1980 and May 1988. With its huge... Learn More
M
201 West 92nd Street
Open from 1975 to 1987, Womanbooks was the second feminist bookstore in New York City. It sold books written, published, and printed by women, many of which could not be... Learn More
N
54 Seventh Avenue South
Open from 1974 to 1978 in Greenwich Village, the Women’s Coffeehouse was a popular and important social gathering and activist space for New York-based lesbians. This lesbian-owned coffeehouse held live... Learn More
O
421 5th Avenue
Brooklyn Women’s Martial Arts (BWMA), renamed the Center for Anti-Violence Education in 1990, was founded in 1974 to teach self-defense skills and karate to women and girls (including lesbians and... Learn More
P
63-14 Roosevelt Avenue
From the early 1990s until its closure at the end of 2018, the Bum Bum Bar (pronounced “boom boom”) catered to a predominately Latina lesbian clientele in Queens. Located under... Learn More
Q
230 West 74th Street
Between 1968 and 1976, the Continental Baths operated out of the basement space of the then-dilapidated Ansonia Hotel. The legendary Baths combined sex, socializing, and entertainment that especially flourished during... Learn More
R
240 West 38th Street
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
S
21 Seventh Avenue South
Crazy Nanny’s was a lesbian bar that drew a racially diverse crowd and was located on the ground and second floors of this building from 1991 to 2004. The large... Learn More
T
438 Hudson Street
Currently occupied by Henrietta Hudson, one of the city’s three remaining lesbian bars, this space was formerly known as Cubby Hole, from 1983 to 1990. Activist and performer Stormé DeLarverie... Learn More
U
281 West 12th Street
After opening DT’s Fat Cat here in 1987, bar owner Tanya Saunders renamed it Cubbyhole in 1994 and envisioned it as an inclusive “neighborhood fusion bar.” Cubbyhole, which still operates... Learn More
V
154 West 10th Street
Named after pioneering lesbian fiction author Djuna Barnes, Djuna Books was a feminist bookstore in Greenwich Village from 1977 to 1982. The store, part of a wave of women-owned bookstores... Learn More
W
129 Macdougal Street
Eve Adams, the name adopted by a Polish-Jewish lesbian émigré, operated a popular gay and lesbian tearoom near Washington Square in Greenwich Village from 1924 to 1926. It closed after... Learn More
X
1901-1929 Emmons Avenue
One of the most beloved and famous restaurants in New York City from the 1930s to the 1970s, this mammoth Spanish Colonial Revival restaurant building was owned and operated by... Learn More
Bars, Clubs & Restaurants
Y
78-11 Roosevelt Avenue
Owned since 1989 by business and personal partners Eddie Valentin and Casimiro Villa, Friend’s Tavern (or Friend’s) in Jackson Heights is known as the oldest active gay bar in Queens.... Learn More