John M. Becker

NY Advocates Push to Give Stonewall Inn Landmark Status

Filed By John M. Becker | February 12, 2014 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Living
Tags: historic landmark, historic preservation, New York City, Stonewall, Stonewall Inn, WTF

stonewall.jpgDid you know that the Stonewall Inn -- perhaps the most singularly consequential place in the history of the modern LGBT civil rights movement -- isn't formally recognized by the City of New York as a historic landmark?

It's true. The bar is already relatively safe from destruction because it sits in NYC's Greenwich Village Historic District, but it currently lacks any formal individual landmark designation. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation is trying to change that, though, pushing for official landmark recognition for the Stonewall Inn and Julius' Bar, which bills itself as the oldest gay bar in the city.

"They're not getting the explicit protections and recognition that they should be getting," said Andrew Berman, GVSHP's executive director. "It's very, very easy for this history to get lost to the sands of time, and that's one of the purposes of landmark designation -- is to make sure that it's not lost, that it is recognized."

Both The Stonewall and Julius are part of the Greenwich Village Historic District, which means any changes to the buildings must be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. But the LPC's 1969 report on the district, detailing the significance of each building, was drafted two months prior to the Stonewall riots and therefore doesn't mention the buildings' role in the fight for LGBT rights.

To ensure that the history of The Stonewall and Julius' are remembered, Berman wants the LPC to either designate them as individual landmarks or to update the original 1969 landmarking report with more details on the buildings' cultural significance. "We don't really want to leave these things to chance," Berman said. "It should be clear and explicit in terms of the designation reports."

Berman's right, of course, and frankly, this should have happened years ago. The Stonewall Inn is already a National Historic Landmark -- it's high time the City of New York gets on board. Unfortunately, as blogger Joe Jervis notes, the landmark commission doesn't appear to be in any hurry. They've acknowledged receiving the requests, he writes, but they've "basically [said] they'll get around to considering it when they have the time."

h/t: Joe. My. God.

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