Six sites significant to LGBTQ history have been calendared by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), a significant step towards formal landmark designation. The Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse at 99 Wooster Street; the Women’s Liberation Center at 243 West 20th Street; the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center at 208 West 13th Street; the Caffe Cino at 31 Cornelia Street; the James Baldwin Residence at 137 West 71st Street; and the Audre Lorde Residence at 207 Saint Paul’s Avenue on Staten Island are all one step closer to greater protection. This official calendarization arrived four years after the groundbreaking 2015 designation of the Stonewall Inn, the long-standing Greenwich Village gay bar that witnessed the 1969 Stonewall riots, as an official New York landmark. However, this official protection came nearly a half-century after the riots immortalized the bar, illuminating the tepid pace at which the LPC has moved to acknowledge LGBTQ-related landmarks. This month's calendaring could be seen as a response to this, spearheaded by activists and advocates who see the potential for progress through the landmarking process. Many pioneers are encapsulated in the selections—Caffe Cino is considered a hotbed of early gay theater, and both James Baldwin and Audre Lorde, whose homes were recognized, revolutionized the possibilities for gay people of color. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, also known as The Center, has been a vital meeting place since the early days of the AIDS crisis. While many of these spaces are no longer actively serving their original purposes, the physical spaces are visual reminders of the struggles for justice that so many faced, and continue to face, today. Now that the calendar process has been completed, the next step for the Commission is to hold a hearing on June 4, where the general public can testify before commission members. A formal vote will follow.
Posts tagged with "Stonewall Inn":
A monument to the LGBTQI community is expected to be completed this June along Hudson River Park. The anticipated unveiling coincides with Pride month, which celebrates the 1969 Stonewall uprising that took place just half a mile away. The monument, designed by Brooklyn-based artist Anthony Goicolea, is an arrangement of nine boulders that have been incised with glass prisms that display the rainbow when lit. The project was in part spurred on by the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando that left 49 dead which motivated Governor Andrew Cuomo to appoint an LGBT Memorial Commission. While a celebration of the present queer community, the monument’s site is also a testament to LGBTQI history near both the thriving gayborhood of the West Village and the West Side Piers, which in New York’s history served as a gay meeting (and cruising) ground. It is also not far from the 2016 New York City AIDS Memorial, which is dedicated to the over 100,000 New Yorkers who have died from AIDS-related illnesses and the many who acted as caregivers during the crisis and who continue to fight as activists. The monument is designed to be a meeting ground that both blends in with the environment yet maintains a distinct character. As Goicolea told The New York Times last year when the project was announced, “I wanted to communicate with the river and the piers. I really want it to be part of the area.” For Goicolea, the boulders act not as the memorial itself, but, as reported in Urban Omnibus, as “pedestals for the true memorial, which is the people that are sitting there”
History happens in pubic space. The election of Barack Obama brought crowds to 125th Street. Crowds formed at the World Trade Center on news of Osama Bin Laden's death. Last Friday night it happened on Sheridan Square. In front of the Stonewall Inn, the crowd stood transfixed, staring into their iPhones, Blackberrries and other assorted digital devices. Several shouted out the numbers of state senators supporting gay marriage as it got closer and closer to the magic number: 32. When I got there, there were shouts of 30 or 31. It was hard to tell really, it wasn’t a coordinated countdown, like the Time Square ball dropping. Some were still at 29 while others were at 31. It depended on whether you were on HuffPo or NYTimes. The whoops of the crowd came in waves, making it feel like the number 32 was reached several times. Amidst the random shouts and general giddiness Danny Fields, the punk impresario and Warhol Factory/Max’s Kansas City regular, stood alone, taking it all in. We talked a bit about who might have liked to be there, but, unfortunately, were no longer with us. I mentioned Herbert Muschamp, also a Factory regular. Fields got mildly misty and said that for all the great writing all that mattered was that he was a good man. It would have been great to read a Muschamp reaction to the events on Saturday morning. Perhaps he would have found a way to weave together preservation with gay issues and architecture. If Robert Moses got his Lower Manhattan Expressway would Sheridan Square have been effected? Would the Stonewall riots have taken place somewhere else, or at all? Or was it a perfect storm encouraged by oppressive power brokers, Village politics, and twisted off-the-grid side streets. Muschamp might have found a freewheeling yet substantial approach to the event, as in his gay-centric essay on landmarking the Edward Durell Stone’s Gallery of Modern Art. In “The Secret History of 2 Columbus Circle” he memorably brought together Henry Geldzahler, lacy underwear, swanky taste, and Singapore slings--all in one sentence! This story was made for him.