City grants landmark status to six LGBTQ+ sites

City grants landmark status to six LGBTQ+ sites

As the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising nears, the city voted Tuesday to landmark six sites based on their contributions to the gay rights movement.

The decision grants landmark status to the James Baldwin Residence on the Upper West Side; the Audre Lorde Residence on Staten Island; the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse in SoHo; the Women’s Liberation Center in Chelsea; and the Caffe Cino and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, both in the West Village.

“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.

“These six new individual landmarks build on our designation of the Stonewall Inn,” she continued, “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 sites join the Stonewall Inn, which was awarded landmark status in 2015 and marked the first time that a building had been designated primarily based on its significance in LGBTQ+ history, rather than its architectural import.

“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,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said. “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.”

The landmark designation vote comes shortly after an announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, stating that the James Baldwin residence on West 71st Street was nominated, along with 17 other sites, for inclusion on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

“These historic locations highlight so much of what it is exceptional and exciting about New York’s history and honor the legacy of some of the state’s most distinguished leaders,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The Baldwin residence, home of the author from 1965 to 1987, and the five other buildings included in Tuesday’s decision are among the places highlighted in the New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project’s bid to document and recognize sites that helped foster the queer and trans community across the five boroughs.

“Today’s six unanimous votes by the Landmarks Preservation Commission is an important acknowledgement of the significant contributions of LGBT New Yorkers to our City’s — and our Nation’s — cultural history,” Ken Lustbader, co-director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, told ALL ARTS. “Designation as Individual Landmarks, by virtue of the cultural significance of the people and organizations associated with each site, will be a point of pride for the LGBT community here in New York and beyond.”

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The non-profit’s work adds to advocacy done by Village Preservation, which campaigned for the newly landmarked LGBT Community Services Center and the former Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse.

“In a city as diverse and progressive as New York, it’s hard to believe that until 2015 we had no landmarks reflecting LGBT history, and up until now only had one — the Stonewall Inn,” Village Preservation Executive Director Andrew Berman said in a statement. “All the threads of the rich tapestry of our city’s history deserve to be recognized and preserved. On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which also occurred in Greenwich Village, we should be reflecting back upon that history of progress and honoring the people and places which made it possible.”

Top Image: The LGBT Community Center. Photo: Travis Mark.