overview

Though here earlier, Jewish immigrants arrived in New York City in significant numbers from Germany in the mid-19th century and then in particularly large waves from Eastern Europe beginning in 1881.

LGBT Jewish New Yorkers featured in this curated theme mostly descended from working-class immigrant families and made a profound impact on the American arts scene, LGBT activism, and religious life. These include composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein, poet Allen Ginsberg, archivist and activist Joan Nestle, PFLAG co-founder Jeanne Manford, those associated with Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, and more.

We continue to research sites that highlight the contributions of LGBT Jewish New Yorkers. Submit your suggestions here.

Header Photo
Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, c. 1940. Photo by Victor Kraft. Source: Library of Congress, Music Division, Aaron Copland Collection.

Featured Historic Sites ( 12 )

A
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 1925 to 1926. It closed when... Learn More

B
103-17 115th Street

Renowned gay rights pioneer Franklin (“Frank”) E. Kameny grew up in this semi-detached brick house from 1925 to 1948. Kameny, who frequently visited his parents’ house until 1979, became a... Learn More

C
481 Eighth Avenue

Considered one of the first, great pioneers of LGBT rights in the early 20th century, German-Jewish physician and sexologist, Magnus Hirschfeld, arrived in New York in November 1930 to begin... Learn More

D
44 West 63rd Street

Composer Aaron Copland – one of the most celebrated figures in classical music – lived in the Hotel Empire from 1936 to 1947 during the height of his career. While... Learn More

E
217 Mott Street, rear

Behind this tenement building is another building at the back of the lot that was the home of civil rights activists, conscientious objectors, and pacifists Igal Roodenko, from 1947 to... Learn More

F
205 West 57th Street

Leonard Bernstein, perhaps the most influential figure in American classical music during the post-war era, lived in the Osborne Apartments from 1951 until c. 1960. During this time he wrote... Learn More

G
26 West 56th Street

Between May 1959 and early 1964, fashion designer Arnold Scaasi used this building, which he owned, as his design studio, showrooms, and residence. Scaasi would later gain worldwide attention when... Learn More

H
170 East 2nd Street

A founding figure of the Beat Generation, one of the 20th century’s most important literary movements, the openly gay poet Allen Ginsberg lived in this tenement building with his “life-long... Learn More

I
117 East 81st Street

Jerome Robbins was a renowned Broadway choreographer of musicals such as West Side Story, Gypsy, and Fiddler on the Roof, and director and choreographer of some of the most popular ballets of the... Learn More

J
296 Ninth Avenue

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

K
33-23 171st Street

In 1972, Queens schoolteacher Jeanne Manford publicly spoke out in support of her gay son Morty at a time when homosexuality was still classified as a mental disorder by the... Learn More

L
215 West 92nd Street

From 1974 to 2002, apartment 13A in this Upper West Side building was the residence of Joan Nestle, an influential lesbian activist and co-founder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives. A... Learn More

Other Curated Themes

7 Sites

Transgender History

25 Sites

Gay-Owned Businesses

17 Sites

Communities of Color

24 Sites

Activism Outside Manhattan

18 Sites

Literary New York

13 Sites

Downtown Arts Scene

21 Sites

City of Immigrants

17 Sites

1970s Lesbian Activism & Community

7 Sites

The Bronx

8 Sites

Brooklyn Heights

7 Sites

Jackson Heights

12 Sites

Staten Island

10 Sites

Why We March

15 Sites

Village Pride Tour

20 Sites

Gay Activists Alliance

13 Sites

The Harlem Renaissance

18 Sites

Pre-20th Century History

23 Sites

Bars & Nightlife

13 Sites

Activism Before Stonewall

22 Sites

Homophobia & Transphobia

43 Sites

Broadway Theater District

11 Sites

Influential Black New Yorkers

13 Sites

Early Community Centers

13 Sites

Lesbian Life Before Stonewall

11 Sites

The AIDS Crisis

25 Sites

LGBT-Named Public Schools

15 Sites

Art & Architecture

10 Sites

National Register Listings

21 Sites

Spotlight on the Theater