West Village gay bar the Stonewall Inn, famous for its role during one of the defining moments in the gay rights movement, may earn a designation as a city landmark.
The bar, which has more or less resided on Christopher Street since 1967, was the site of the 1969 Stonewall riots, after it was raided by police and sparked a massive gay liberation movement that continues even today. The tavern actually closed soon after the riots and didn't return to the space again until 1990, and though it's currently protected somewhat thanks to its inclusion within the Greenwich Village Historic District, advocates want the bar permanently saved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. "We don’t want to see an important historical site turn into a nail salon. With real estate as crazy as it is, I would consider these sites to be generally threatened from those type of pressures," state Senator Brad Hoylman told the Daily News.
The commission will vote on the bar's landmark status on Tuesday, a move the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation says is long overdue. "It is critical that the history of sites like Stonewall and the immeasurably important role they played in making our country a more just, open, and accepting place, is recognized and preserved," executive director Andrew Berman told the News. The group has been lobbying the city to afford the tavern landmark status for over a decade.
As a landmark, the Stonewall—which, at least outwardly, still looks much the same as it did in 1969—cannot be modified or demolished.
Today, the Stonewall is largely a tourist spot, though it still serves as a focal gathering point during major gay rights-related moments. When New York State legalized gay marriage in 2011, for instance, the bar drew hordes of people who wanted to celebrate outside the place where the movement began; there was also a massive celebration outside the bar when the Supreme Court struck down the bigoted Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.