On January 16, 2014, GVSHP sent a letter to the then-chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) Robert Tierney calling for landmark designation of the Stonewall Inn.
In June 2015, The Stonewall Inn was designated a New York City Landmark, becoming the first New York City landmark designated based upon LGBT history. For a year and a half, GVSHP was helping lead the push to make this designation a reality. As we highlighted to the LPC in the letter:
“Some of the most important LGBT history sites in the world are located in our city, and many of them are located in Greenwich Village and the immediately surrounding neighborhoods. Yet few if any of the most important of these sites are explicitly recognized or protected by the LPC for their LGBT history.”
The 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising this year coincides closely with the 50th Anniversary of the designation of the Greenwich Village Historic District. While the Stonewall Inn is located with the Greenwich Village Historic District, the events of the Uprising which took place in late June are mentioned nowhere in the designation report for the district, which was published two months prior in April (though frankly even if the Stonewall Riots took place two months or even two years before the designation of the Greenwich Village Historic District, it’s unlikely they would have made their way in to the designation report, as it was not until many years later that LGBT history began to be formally recognized and acknowledged — whether by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, or many other institutions). This was part of GVSHP’s argument for the need for individual landmark designation for Stonewall, as stated in that letter:
“In recent years, the LPC has begun to include references to LGBT history in designation reports for new historic districts in Greenwich Village and the East Village, as well as some individual landmarks. The designation report for the just-designated South Village Historic District contains, for the first time, a section specifically dedicated to the LGBT history of the district–a welcome development….However, this is not the case for our city’s older historic district designation reports, which contain some of the most important sites in New York City and the world in connection to LGBT history. As a result, these incredibly important sites enjoy no formal recognition or protection from the LPC on the basis of their LGBT history.”
Finally, a designation based on LGBT history is not only a win for the neighborhood, but also carries great symbolic weight for the city. As state and federal governments had recognized the importance and impact of the Stonewall Uprising, the need for this city designation was then more urgent and timely.
“The Stonewall Inn, the site of the Stonewall riots which are internationally recognized as the catalyst of the modern LGBT rights movement, was listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 1999 (co-nominated by GVSHP) and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2000… Across the country, municipalities, states, and the federal government are taking steps to ensure that our nation’s LGBT history, and critical sites connected to it, are recognized and preserved. I urge the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to take similar action, and believe that formally recognizing the significance of the aforementioned sites would be an important and necessary step toward doing so.”
Read the full letter here.