New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously voted to grant the Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 Stonewall riots that sparked the modern LGBTQ rights movement, city landmark status Tuesday. This is the first time the city has primarily recognized a landmark for its contribution to LGBTQ history.
Police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay club in Greenwich Village, in the early morning of June 28, 1969, arresting patrons as part of a citywide crackdown on gay and lesbian activities. However, club-goers refused to leave and instead gathered on the curb outside, where a crowd quickly formed.
“Its members became increasingly angry at the rough treatment some prisoners were receiving and resentful of the unfairness of the situation,” the Landmarks Preservation Commission wrote in a Tuesday press release.
Resistance to the detainments and arrests mounted, in the form of thrown coins and bottles as well as attempted arson, until the police barricaded themselves within the Stonewall Inn itself. Violent protests continued all night and over the next few days, culminating in a large uprising the night of July 2, 1969.
Two Village Voice writers, whose offices were nearby, noticed the growing riots and joined the fray to report on them. “Watch out,” one wrote in a July 2 article that inspired further outrage for its use of gay slurs. “The liberation is under way.”
The Stonewall riots were not the first time police faced resistance when raiding a gay bar, but they became the most well known, likely thanks to the Stonewall Inn’s central location. Shortly following the Stonewall riots, numerous LGBTQ activists groups, such as the Gay Liberation Front and the Radicalesbians, formed across the country and around the world.
A thousands-strong march from Greenwich Village to Central Park took place on the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots in 1970, with similar marches occurring in other major cities. Today, these pride parades take place worldwide, while in May President Obama designated June as “LGBT Pride Month.”
The Stonewall Inn, first built as stables in the 1840s, has been in the Greenwich Village Historic District since April 1969 and in the National Register of Historic Places since February 2000. Yet with this new status as an individual New York City landmark, any alternations to the Stonewall Inn will face stricter requirements.
“The Stonewall Inn is a rarity—a tipping point in history where we know, with absolute clarity, that everything changed,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer in the Landmarks Preservation Commission press release. “This building has a unique place in the history of our city and in the struggle for dignity and equal rights in our society.”