Home : Resources : Greenwich Village LGBT History
Greenwich Village LGBT History
GVSHP continues to advocate for protection of a variety of sites tied to the Village’s LGBT history.
The oldest gay bar in New York, Julius’ was also the site of a groundbreaking gay civil rights action in 1966 which resulted in the end of New York State’s prohibition on serving alcohol to anyone known to be gay. The “sip-in,” in which several members of a gay civil rights organization known as the Mattachine Society went to the bar identifying themselves as ‘homosexuals’ and asked to be served a drink, was based upon the “sit-ins” being staged at segregated lunch counters throughout the South, and was one of the first recorded instances of civil disobedience against anti-gay discrimination.
186 Spring Street
This nearly 200 year old house became a ‘gay commune’ in the early 1970s, in which some of the most important and influential activist figures of the time resided. Read about it in our letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission HERE. Residents included Jim Owles, who co-founded the Gay Activists Alliance and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), was the first openly-gay candidate for office in New York City, and lobbied for the very first gay anti-discrimination ordinances in New York City and State. It also included Bruce Voeller, who co-founded and was the first director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, was the plaintiff in a landmark Supreme Court case establishing gay and lesbian parental rights, got what had been called “Gay Related Immune Deficiency Disorder (GRIDD)” renamed the more accurate and less stigmatizing “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)”, and conducted the first published study demonstrating that condom usage could prevent the spread of AIDS. Both of these men did much of this groundbreaking work while living at 186 Spring Street. Read the New York Times report here.
Church in the Village/formerly the Metropolitan-Duane United Methodist Church
This was the site of the founding in 1973 of what came to be known as PFLAG, Parents, Friends, and Families of Lesbians and Gays, now a national organization with 350 Chapters and 200,000 members.
101 Avenue A (site of the Pyramid Club) In our nomination for 101 Avenue A as a New York City landmark, GVSHP highlighted and documented the important role that the Pyramid Club, located in the ground floor of the building, played in launching a new generation of politically-conscious drag performers in the late 1980s, and in the founding of the annual Wigstock drag festival. The club was central to the “Downtown Scene” of the era and nurtured performance artists and young performers including Madonna, Nirvana, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. In the late 1960s, Warhol superstar Nico also lived in the second floor apartment above the club.
The LGBT Community Services Center The LGBT Community Services Center at 208 West 13th Street was proposed by Village Preservation proposed for landmark designation in 2014 and was finally landmarked in June, 2019. The LGBT Community Center has been a home and resource hub for the LGBT community in New York City since its founding in 1983. The center celebrates diversity and advocates for justice and opportunity. The building that houses the community center is a beautiful brick Italianate structure that was originally built in the third quarter of the 19th century as Public School 16. Today, it has grown to become the largest LGBT multi-service organization on the East Coast and the second largest in the world.
Gay Activist Alliance Firehouse The former Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse at 99 Wooster Street was proposed by Village Preservation proposed for landmark designation in 2014 and was finally landmarked in June, 2019. Almost exactly six months after the Stonewall Riots, the group was founded by Marty Robinson, Jim Owles, and Arthur Evans, as an offshoot of the Gay Liberation Front. The GAA was intended to be a “single issue, politically neutral [organization]”, whose goal would be to “secure basic human rights, dignity and freedom for all gay people.” Active mostly just from 1970 to 1974, they had a profound influence not only on the lives of gay and lesbian New Yorkers, but on the broader culture and on activism in our city and country in general.
Webster Hall Village Preservation highlighted Webster Hall’s early 20th century drag balls and gay and lesbian-inclusive celebrations and political events as part of the important social and cultural history which formed the basis for our nomination of the site for landmark status. The city granted landmark status on the building in March 2008.
Stonewall District National Register of Historic Places Report and images The first site listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its association with Lesbian and Gay history Designation sponsored by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and the Organization of Lesbian and Gay Architects. Read more about the listing here.
Stonewall Inn, 51-53 Christopher Street
History was made and preserved on June 23, 2015, as the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to approve landmark designation of the Stonewall Inn at 51-53 Christopher Street. This was the first such site the Commission had landmarked based solely upon LGBT history. Village Preservation first proposed the Stonewall for landmark designation in early 2014, and spearheaded the campaign to get the City to take this action. Click here to read the Stonewall Inn Designation Report.
Gansevoort Market Historic District Designation Report Designated September, 2003, and nominated by GVSHP’s Save Gansevoort Market project, this report includes the history of gay establishments in the area and the area’s historic role in New York’s gay community.
NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission Designation Report
State and National Register Report
127 MacDougal Street Landmark Designation Report Designated June, 2004, nominated by GVSHP and the NY Landmarks Conservancy. This report includes the history of early lesbian and gay establishments on MacDougal Street.
129 MacDougal Street Landmark Designation Report Designated June, 2004, nominated by GVSHP and the NY Landmarks Conservancy. This report includes the history of early lesbian and gay establishments on MacDougal Street.
131 MacDougal Street Landmark Designation Report Designated June, 2004, nominated by GVSHP and the NY Landmarks Conservancy. This report includes the history of early lesbian and gay establishments on MacDougal Street.
Weehawken Street Historic District Designation Report Designated May, 2005 in response to GVSHP’s “Campaign to Save the Far West Village.” Includes history of gay establishments in the area and the area’s historic role in New York’s gay community.
Proposal for a South Village Historic District Written by Andrew Dolkart, commissioned by GVSHP to support proposal for a South Village Historic District.
Includes the role played by MacDougal, Bleecker, and West 3rd Streets in the late 19th/early 20th centuries as the center of lesbian and gay life in New York. (see pp.66-67)
South Village Historic District Designation Report This historic district report documents the rich array of 19th and early 20th century sites connected to the development of this neighborhood as a mecca for immigrants, artists, writers, and musicians in the 20th century, as well as a chapter focused specifically on the neighborhood’s LGBT history. The South Village was once the center of the world for LGBT New Yorkers. In fact, a century ago, the South Village was one of the few places on earth with an open and visible concentration of establishments catering to the LGBT community, attracting visitors and tourists from around the world.
GVSHP offers an array of historic preservation and research resources.
Home : Resources : Greenwich Village LGBT History