Six significant LGBTQ sites in New York City are landmarked

June 18, 2019

Top, left to right: GAA Firehouse, James Baldwin Residence, LGBT Community Center; Bottom, left to right: Audre Lorde Residence, Women’s Liberation Center, Caffe Cino; Photos courtesy of NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

Six sites significant to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community of New York City officially became city landmarks on Tuesday. The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse, the Women’s Liberation Center, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, Caffe Cino, James Baldwin’s Upper West Side home, and the Staten Island home of Audre Lorde. The designations coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, as well as the city’s first time hosting WorldPride.

LPC Chair Sarah Carroll on Tuesday said she was proud of the designations. “These six new individual landmarks build on our designation of the Stonewall Inn by recognizing some of the foundational locations for LGBT activism in the second half of the 20th century, important groups who fought for equality and provided support, and acclaimed African-American authors and activists whose published works have been inspirational to many people and whose legacy resonates today.”

The sites were proposed for landmark status based on recommendations by the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project during a meeting earlier this year with the commission and a representative from City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s office.

“New York City played such an important role in moving the LGBTQ civil rights movement forward and we owe it to those who fought in this movement to ensure that their legacy lives on,” Johnson said in a statement. “These sites memorialize the diversity and intersectionality of the LGBTQ rights movement and will make excellent additions to the city’s amazing list of landmarks.”

Two buildings in Greenwich Village were designated, including Caffe Cino, the first Off-Off-Broadway theater that became a safe haven for gay performers, and the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse on Wooster Street, which served as a meeting space for the LGBT community following the Stonewall uprising.

“On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which also occurred in Greenwich Village, we should be reflecting back upon that history of progress and honoring the people and places which made it possible,” Andrew Berman, the executive director of Village Preservation, said in a statement.

“We will continue to fight for the recognition and preservation of the history of the LGBT community and other marginalized and underrepresented communities which have often found a home and support in our neighborhoods — it’s one of the aspects of our neighborhoods’ history of which we are most proud.”

The LPC also landmarked the Anglo-Italianate former firehouse on West 20th Street which housed the Women’s Liberation Center from 1972 to 1987 and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center on West 13th Street. And two residences of notable LGBT New Yorkers made the cut: James Baldwin’s Upper West Side house and Audre Lorde’s home on Staten Island. As 6sqft reported on Monday, the New York State Board for Historic Preservation recommended 18 properties be added to the State and National Registers of Historic Places, including Baldwin’s home at 137 West 71st Street.

“We hope that these designations, based in part on our recommendations to the Commission, will be a model not only for continuing recognition in New York City, but for designations across the country beyond Stonewall 50 celebrations,” Andrew Dolkart, co-director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, said in a statement.


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