overview

This curated collection highlights LGBT history associated with outdoor public spaces — parks, beaches, and playgrounds — that are under the auspices of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

Sites include commemorative markers and memorials, works of art, and activist and cruising locations in parks, beaches, and plazas.

Also included are public spaces named after notable LGBT people, some of which intentionally honor a person’s LGBT identity.

Header Photo
Felix (second from left; dressed as Carmen Miranda) and friends at Screech Beach in Riis Park Beach, Queens, summer 1972. Photo (cropped) by Jeffrey Simon. Courtesy of David Bolt.

Featured Historic Sites ( 38 )

A
Silver Lake Park

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. Audre Lorde Walk, on Staten Island, inadvertently honors... Learn More

B
2 Hylan Boulevard

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. Alice Austen Park, on Staten Island, inadvertently honors... Learn More

C
South Beach

The beaches, boardwalk, and parking lots of South Beach have been Staten Island’s most popular LGBT cruising areas since at least the 1960s. At times these have been contested grounds,... Learn More

D
1000 Richmond Terrace

Once a home for aged sailors, the Sailors’ Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Gardens has been an important venue for LGBT culture and events since the 1980s. In particular,... Learn More

E
Grand Central Parkway & 78th Avenue

In June 1969, a week before the Stonewall uprising, a group of local Queens residents formed a “vigilante committee” to harass gay men cruising in a nearby Flushing Meadows-Corona Park... Learn More

F
Jacob Riis Park

The isolated eastern end of the beach at Jacob Riis Park has been a location for LGBT sunbathing and cruising since the 1940s. Historically, it has been the most popular... Learn More

G
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

H
Cadman Plaza East

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. Walt Whitman Park, in Brooklyn, inadvertently honors an... Learn More

I
Brooklyn Heights Promenade

From the 1950s through the 1980s, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade was one of the city’s most popular and well-known gay male cruising areas. It became contested ground during the 1960s... Learn More

J
Flushing Avenue & Steuben Street

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. Steuben Playground, in Brooklyn, inadvertently honors an LGBT... Learn More

K
Kosciuszko Street & Lewis Avenue

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. Eleanor Roosevelt Playground, in Brooklyn, inadvertently honors an... Learn More

L
Morris Avenue & East 181st Street

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. Mabel Hampton Gardens, in the Bronx, specifically honors... Learn More

M
Pelham Bay Park

Orchard Beach, sometimes referred to as “the Bronx Riviera,” has long been a meeting and cruising location for LGBT people of color, in particular. Learn More

N
Hamilton Place & West 141st Street

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. Alexander Hamilton Playground, in Manhattan, inadvertently honors an... Learn More

O
St. Nicholas Park

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. James Baldwin Lawn, in Manhattan’s St. Nicholas Park,... Learn More

P
St. Nicholas Houses

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. Langston Hughes Playground, in Manhattan, inadvertently honors an... Learn More

Q
Crack is Wack Playground

In 1986, Keith Haring painted his iconic Crack is Wack mural on a handball court wall visible from the Harlem River Drive (the mural there today is actually his second... Learn More

R
Fifth Avenue & East 135th Street

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. Abraham Lincoln Playground, in Manhattan, inadvertently honors an... Learn More

S
Various Locations

Central Park has had numerous associations with the LGBT community since its creation in 1857, including many areas popular for meeting and cruising, associations with Gay Pride Marches, and its... Learn More

T
Riverside Park

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. Eleanor Roosevelt Monument, in Manhattan’s Riverside Park, inadvertently... Learn More

U
Tenth Avenue & West 47th Street

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. Lorraine Hansberry Park, in Manhattan, inadvertently honors an... Learn More

V
Bryant Park

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. The Gertrude Stein Monument, in Manhattan’s Bryant Park,... Learn More

W
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. Dag Hammarskjold Plaza and Katharine Hepburn Garden, in... Learn More

X
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza

On April 18, 1965, the fourth-ever gay rights demonstration in the United States – and the third in New York City – took place at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, across the... Learn More

Y
Ralph Bunche Park

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. A plaque for Bayard Rustin, in Manhattan’s Ralph... Learn More

Z
East Houston Street & Baruch Drive

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. Wald Playground, in Manhattan, inadvertently honors an LGBT... Learn More

AA
Montgomery & Monroe Streets

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. Lillian D. Wald Playground, in Manhattan, inadvertently honors... Learn More

AB
City Hall Park

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. The Jane Addams Memorial, in Manhattan’s City Hall... Learn More

AC
St. Nicholas Park

Founding Father Alexander Hamilton lived in this house – which was built for him and his family in 1802 – until his death in 1804, though the house has since been relocated... Learn More

AD
Battery Park

Many New York City public parks and playgrounds are named in honor of prominent figures in New York City and American history. Emma Lazarus Memorial Plaque, in Manhattan’s Battery Park,... Learn More

AE
City Hall Park

City Hall Park is the earliest known documented gay male cruising area in Manhattan, according to newspaper accounts beginning in the early 1840s. Learn More

AF
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Architect Philip Johnson and artists Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol are all associated with the New York State Pavilion, built for the 1964 New York World’s... Learn More

AG
Lincoln Center Plaza

The outdoor performance space at the southwest corner of Lincoln Center has served New York City since its opening in 1969. Importantly, in 1986, it hosted the first-ever AIDS Walk... Learn More

AH
Christopher Park

Located just across from the Stonewall Inn, Christopher Park has been at the center of the LGBT rights movement since the historic 1969 uprising. The park was included within the... Learn More

AI
Madison Square Park

For several years in the 1990s, the South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association (SALGA) led “Desi Dhamaka” protests in Madison Square Park in response to being banned from participating in... Learn More

AJ
Central Park

The Angel of the Waters statue atop the Bethesda Fountain is the 1860s masterpiece of lesbian sculptor Emma Stebbins and was the earliest public artwork by a woman in New York City. In... Learn More

AK
St. Vincent's Triangle

The New York City AIDS Memorial — dedicated on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2016 — honors the more than 100,000 New Yorkers who have died of AIDS since the... Learn More

AL
Bryant Park

First organized by the Lesbian Avengers in 1993, the NYC Dyke March is an annual march from Bryant Park to Washington Square for self-identified dykes who advocate for increased lesbian... Learn More