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February 25, 2016
ON 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF JULIUS’ “SIP-IN,”
TRAILBLAZING LGBT CIVIL RIGHTS ACTION,
GVSHP CALLS FOR LANDMARK DESIGNATION
Iconic Image of Historic Event for Sale
In Support of GVSHP's Preservation Efforts
GVSHP is renewing its drive for landmark status for 159 West 10th Street / 188 Waverly Place, on the upcoming 50th anniversary of the historic “Sip-In” at Julius’ Bar, the first ever planned act of civil disobedience for LGBT rights. This groundbreaking action based upon the ubiquitous “sit-ins” of the time challenged legal restrictions which criminalized gathering spaces for LGBT people, and led to substantial changes in the law three years before the Stonewall riots. Julius' building dates to 1826 and has been a bar since 1864, making it one of the oldest bars in New York City. Julius’ is also known to be New York’s and one of the country’s oldest gay bars.
GVSHP will be staging a public program to commemorate the event in April, and through the incredible generosity of the Fred W. McDarrah Estate, a limited number of high-quality prints of the iconic image of this great moment in civil rights history will be available for sale, with proceeds supporting GVSHP.
Background: In 1966, the Mattachine Society, an early LGBT rights organization, set about to challenge New York State regulations allowing bars to be closed for serving alcohol to gay people or allowing same-sex kissing or hand-holding. On April 21, these activists went to Julius’ Bar, which was popular among gay people but, like many “gay bars” at the time, required a level of secrecy by gay patrons or risked being shut down. Identifying themselves as ‘homosexuals,’ the protestors asked to be served a drink. In an iconic moment captured by Fred McDarrah which encapsulated the repression of the time, the bartender refused to serve the men, covering their bar glasses. This action led to a 1967 New York State court decision striking down rules allowing bars to be shuttered simply for serving gay people, paving the way for greater freedom from harassment and abuse by LGBT people, and set the stage for future progress.
In 2012, GVSHP was able to get Julius' ruled eligible for the State and National Registers of Historic Places. In 2014 and again in 2015, GVSHP led a push to get the Stonewall Inn, Julius', and other LGBT history sites designated New York City landmarks. In 2015, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Stonewall a New York City landmark, the first time the Commission had done so for any site based upon LGBT civil rights history (the LPC has a long record of refusing to designate LGBT landmarks). Several elected officials have joined GVSHP’s call for landmark designation.
Like Stonewall, Julius' is located within the Greenwich Village Historic District, but the 1969 designation report makes no mention of Stonewall or Julius’ LGBT civil rights history, leaving these buildings open to potential future demolition or alteration without some additional protection like individual landmark designation of Julius'.
Read coverage of the landmarking push here.
HOW TO HELP:
Find out more about LGBT history sites in the Village and East Village and GVSHP’s efforts to recognize and preserve them here and here.