What to Know
- Six New York City buildings associated with LGBT history were designated as landmarks
- The designations come during Pride Month and just ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising
- The buildings housed a theater, political and community service organizations and homes of prominent African-American civil rights activists
Six New York City buildings associated with LGBTQ history were designated as landmarks, just ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and during Pride Month.
The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the locations which have made significant contribution to the LGBT cultural and civil rights movements, particularly by bringing cultural expression into the public realm.
These buildings housed a theater where gay theater productions were performed in public for the first time in the decade before Stonewall, political and community service organizations supporting the LGBT community and residences of two of the nation’s most important African-American writers and civil rights activists, whose literary work presented honest depictions of bisexual and same-sex relationships.
“I am very proud of these designations, which recognize that despite the obstacles they faced, the LGBT community has thrived in New York City,” Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Sarah Carroll said in a statement.
The new landmarks are:
- 31 Cornelia St., in the Greenwich Village, is culturally significant for its association with the Caffe Cino, which occupied the building’s ground floor commercial space from 1958 to 1968 and became a center for gay artists to share their work;
- The Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse at 99 Wooster St., in Manhattan, is culturally significant for its association with the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA), which used the building as its headquarters from 1971to 1974 when the organization was most active lobbying for the passage of LGBT civil rights legislation. It also served as an important gathering place;
- The Women’s Liberation Center at 243 West 20th St., in Manhattan, is a former firehouse that is culturally significant for its association with the Women’s Liberation Center, which occupied the building from 1972 to 1987. The Women’s Liberation Center was a critically important advocacy space for women in the LGBT civil rights movement, and for lesbians within the feminist movement;
- The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center at 208 West 13th St., in Manhattan, is a former school building at 208 West 13th Street is culturally significant for its association with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, which has occupied the building since 1984;
- The James Baldwin Residence at 137 West 71st St., in Manhattan, is small apartment house that was purchased by the celebrated novelist, essayist, and civil rights activist James Baldwin in 1965 and served as his New York residence from 1966 to 1987;
- The Audre Lorde Residence at 207 St. Paul’s Ave. in Staten Island, was the home of the critically-acclaimed African-American novelist, poet, essayist, and feminist Audre Lorde who lived there with her children and partner Frances Clayton from 1972 to 1987.
“As people from around the world gather in New York to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall and World Pride, now is the perfect time to preserve our unparalleled LGBTQ history,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “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. 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.”
Co-Director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, a cultural heritage initiative documenting historic LGBT sites in New York City, Andrew S. Dolkart shared similar sentiments.
“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,” Dolkart said in a statement.