New York City’s iconic Stonewall Inn got a much-needed lifeline this week after receiving a $250,000 donation from the Gill Foundation. The Greenwich Village bar, considered the birthplace of the LGBTQ rights movement, has been closed since March because of the coronavirus pandemic and has struggled to keep up with bills, including its $40,000/month rent. But thanks to the donation, and more than $300,000 raised as part of an online fundraiser, the national historic landmark will able to survive a little longer.
Via NPCA on Flickr
Millions will converge in New York City this weekend to celebrate events which took place in and outside of a Greenwich Village bar 50 years ago. The Stonewall Riots will not only be memorialized here in New York City, but those events have come to take on international significance. There are celebrations and marches in countries across the globe, with the name ‘Stonewall’ also used by countless organizations and entities around the world to signify the quest for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality.
But 50 years ago those three nights of protests were barely noticed beyond the boundaries of the local neighborhood and a small but energized group of activists and rabble-rousers. They garnered little media attention, and most of the attention received was pretty negative – including from the gay community. So how did the events at the Stonewall 50 years ago go from an obscure set of disturbances at the tail end of the decade marked by strife and disorder, to an internationally-recognized symbol of a civil rights movement? Ahead, learn about Stonewall’s long road to becoming a civil rights landmark.
Last year’s Pride Parade outside the Stonewall Inn, via Wiki Commons
In about a month New York will be in the throes of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, three nights of disturbances from June 28th to June 30th 1969, which are recognized globally as the start of the modern LGBT rights movement. But Stonewall is only one of the scores of important LGBT landmarks in Greenwich Village – the homes of people, events, businesses and institutions dating from more than a century ago to just a few years ago. Thanks to landmark designation, most of these sites still stand. Here are just some of the dazzling array of those, all still extant, which can be found in the neighborhood which is arguably the nexus of the LGBT universe.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the designation of the Greenwich Village Historic District. One of the city’s oldest and largest landmark districts, it’s a treasure trove of rich history, pioneering culture, and charming architecture. Village Preservation will be spending 2019 marking this anniversary with events, lectures, and new interactive online resources, including a celebration and district-wide weekend-long “Open House” starting on Saturday, April 13 in Washington Square. Check here for updates and more details. This is part of a series of posts about the Greenwich Village Historic District marking its golden anniversary.
It’s not that often you can pinpoint a time and place and say the course of history was forever changed as a result of it. It’s even less common for such a thing to happen over and over again in one small neighborhood. But from its earliest days, Greenwich Village is where history has been made, much of it within the Greenwich Village Historic District, which lies at its heart. Here are a baker’s dozen of such events located within those one hundred blocks, from the first free black settlement in North America and the birth of the modern LGBT rights movement to the first museum dedicated to contemporary American art and the publication of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”
Photo by Diana Davies, Gay Liberation Front marches on Times Square, New York, 1970. Courtesy of New York Public Library, Manuscripts and Archives Division
Beginning in the season so many associate with love, the New York Public Library is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots through a major exhibition, a series of programs, book recommendations, and more. “Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50” chronicles the emergence of LGBTQ activism with over 150 photographs and ephemera. An opening celebration will kick off both the exhibition and the Library After Hours series on Friday, February 15 from 7-10 P.M.
Did you participate in the Stonewall Inn Riots of 1969 and the period of LGBTQ activism in New York City between 1968 and 1971? Do you know someone who did? If so, consider contributing pride memorabilia from that moment in history to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, which is compiling a collection to preserve the history of Stonewall. The project, Stonewall Forever, launched last year after Google granted the LGBT Center $1 million to preserve oral histories and experiences of those present during the riots.
Stonewall Inn, photo via Wikimedia
LGBT activists will unveil a rainbow flag outside the historic gay bar Stonewall Inn on Wednesday, marking the 30th anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. The Greenwich Village bar at 53 Christopher Street is often credited with launching the gay rights movement after multiple violent police raids in the summer of 1969. President Barack Obama designated Stonewall as a national monument last year, the first National Park Service unit dedicated to the gay rights movement (h/t DNA info). Stonewall’s rainbow flag will be the first permanent LGBT pride flag in New York City.
Forty-eight years ago, just after 1:00am on June 28th, police raided Greenwich Village’s Stonewall Inn, the well-known gay bar on Christopher Street. Unlike past raids against gay bars, the crowd outside fought back, throwing bottles at the cops and protesting around the site for the next six days. According to the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, the event is “generally credited as the beginning of the modern LGBT rights movement,” sparking “the next major phase of the gay liberation movement, which involved more radical political action and assertiveness during the 1970s.” But as they also note in an earlier interview with 6sqft, the struggle for LGBT rights existed long before Stonewall.
Join the Project’s co-director Ken Lustbader and project manager Amanda Davis in this video tour of historic sites around the neighborhood that play an equally important role in LGBT history and advocacy in NYC and beyond.
“Where did lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) history happen in New York City? In what buildings did influential LGBT activists and artists live and work, and on what streets did groups demonstrate for their equal rights?” These are the questions that the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is answering through a first-of-its-kind initiative to document historic and cultural sites associated with the LGBT community in the five boroughs. Through a map-based online archive, based on 25 years of research of advocacy, the group hopes to make “invisible history visible” by exploring sites related to everything from theater and art to social activism and health.
To mark Pride Month, 6sqft recently talked with the Historic Sites Project’s directors–architectural historian and preservation professor at Columbia Andrew S. Dolkart; historic preservation consultant Ken Lustbader; and former senior historian at the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission Jay Shockley–along with their project manager, preservationist Amanda Davis, about the roots of the initiative, LGBT history in NYC, and the future of gay advocacy.
Last June, President Obama formally recognized Greenwich Village’s Stonewall Inn and its surrounding area as a national historic monument, creating the first National Park Service unit dedicated to the gay rights movement. To expand the reach of this monument, Senator Chuck Schumer announced on Sunday a $1 million grant from Google to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center to begin a project preserving the oral histories and human experiences from early LGBTQ leaders present during the Stonewall Inn riots. According to the New York Times, the initiative will create an educational curriculum for students and a digital platform that’s expected to launch by the 50th anniversary of the protests in 2019.