Six buildings in New York City of significance to the LGBTQ community officially became city landmarks on Tuesday, June 18th by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. Two of the sites named were homes to major LGBTQ writers; the Upper West Side home of James Baldwin and the Staten Island home of Audre Lorde. The other four include the original Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) Firehouse on Wooster Street in the Village, which served as an important meeting and social space for the community in the months after the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion as well as the Women’s Liberation Center, another former fire house, which served as a community center for lesbian women from 1972 to 1987.
Also designated: the LGBT Community Center on West 13th Street and Caffe Cino, the off-off Broadway theater space in the Village that hosted a huge variety of theater including presenting the works of many gay playwrights including Robert Patrick, Tom Eyen and Lanford Wilson.
This week’s designations tie into the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and New York City’s hosting of World Pride. The Stonewall Inn itself has already been named a landmark, both by the city and the national government.
Landmark Preservation Commission chair Sarah Carroll stated: “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 decision on these six choices was largely applauded in the community though some have criticized the lack of support for other important LGBTQ landmarks to be recognized including Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop at 5 Christopher Street, created by pioneering activist Craig Rodwell as the first exclusively gay bookstore in the world or Julius’ Bar at 159 West 10th Street, a discreetly vague gay bar (at the time) that became the center of a court case that allowed the dismantlement of laws in New York State that prohibited bars from legally serving liquor to “deviates” aka gay people.