Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 18, 2019
CONTACT: lpcpressoffice@lpc.nyc.gov, 212-669-7938

LPC Designates Six Individual Landmarks with LGBT Associations During Pride Month

On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and coinciding with World Pride NYC, LPC recognizes places associated with people and organizations that made significant contributions to the LGBT cultural and civil rights movements.

6 Buildings

From left to right, The Caffe Cino, the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse, the Women's Liberation Center, The LGBT Community Center, the James Baldwin Residence and the Audre Lorde Residence.

NEW YORK – Today, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) designated six buildings associated with the history of the  lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community as individual landmarks: The Caffe Cino at 31 Cornelia Street, Manhattan; the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse at 99 Wooster Street, Manhattan; the Women's Liberation Center at 243 West 20th Street, Manhattan; The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center at 208 West 13th Street, Manhattan; the James Baldwin Residence at 137 West 71st Street, Manhattan; and the Audre Lorde Residence at 207 St. Paul's Avenue, Staten Island. On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and coinciding with World Pride NYC, LPC recognized sites important to LGBT history in New York City, in particular, places associated with groups and individuals that helped move forward the LGBT civil rights movement by creating political and community support structures, and by bringing LGBT cultural expression into the public realm.

"I am very proud of these designations, which recognize that despite the obstacles they faced, the LGBT community has thrived in New York City," said Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Sarah Carroll. "These six new individual landmarks build on our designation of the Stonewall Inn 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."

These buildings housed a theater where gay theater productions were performed in public for the first time in the decade before Stonewall, political and community service organizations supporting the LGBT community, and residences of two of the nation's most important African-American writers and civil rights activists, whose literary work presented honest depictions of bisexual and same-sex relationships. The buildings retain their appearance and integrity to the period of cultural significance.

  • The Caffe Cino (31 Cornelia Street):  31 Cornelia Street in the Greenwich Village is culturally significant for its association with the Caffe Cino, which occupied the building's ground floor commercial space from 1958 to 1968 and became a center for gay artists to share their work. Opened by Joe Cinno, an Italian-American gay man, the coffee shop served as a venue for new and unknown playwrights, most of whom were gay men to share their work at a time when portraying homosexuality in theatrical productions was a criminal offense. Playwrights and performers who presented their work at the Caffe Cino pioneered the Off-Off-Broadway, experimental, and gay theater movements.
  • The Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse (99 Wooster Street): The former firehouse at 99 Wooster Street is culturally significant for its association with the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA), which used the building as its headquarters from 1971to 1974 when the organization was most active lobbying for the passage of LGBT civil rights legislation. In addition to being its headquarters, the GAA Firehouse has been called New York City's "first gay community center." It served as an important gathering place, where numerous alliance meetings were held, as well as dance parties and cultural events.  
  • The Women's Liberation Center (243 West 20th Street, Manhattan): The former firehouse at 243 West 20th Street is culturally significant for its association with the Women's Liberation Center, which occupied the building from 1972 to 1987. The Women's Liberation Center was a critically important advocacy space for women in the LGBT civil rights movement, and for lesbians within the feminist movement. It also offered support for the lesbian community through the Lesbian Switchboard, a volunteer-staffed telephone service that provided peer counseling, referrals, and information about local events.  Like the GAA firehouse, the Women's Liberation Center was a model for later LGBT community centers that would prove so important to the crises and political fights of the following decades.
  • The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (208 West 13th Street):  This former school building at 208 West 13th Street is culturally significant for its association with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, which has occupied the building since 1984. In the decades since, the Center has played a key role in supporting the rights, health, and wellness of the LGBT community, welcoming hundreds of community groups and hosting meetings, celebrations, workshops, cultural events, and mental health and social services.
  • The James Baldwin Residence (137 West 71st Street): This small apartment house at 137 West 71st Street was purchased by the celebrated novelist, essayist, and civil rights activist James Baldwin in 1965 and served as his New York residence from 1966 to 1987. Although Baldwin split his time between NYC and Paris, during his time here, he worked on novels and essays, including "If Beale Street Could Talk,"  met with other prominent writers, performers, civil rights activists, and musicians, and participated in several notable events, including an appearance with Dr. Martin Luther King at Carnegie Hall and a forum held by the gay anti-racism group Black and White Men Together, where he spoke publicly about his sexuality. It is the most significant surviving building in New York City associated with him.
  • The Audre Lorde Residence (207 St. Paul's Avenue, Staten Island): The critically-acclaimed African-American novelist, poet, essayist, and feminist Audre Lorde  lived at 207 St. Paul's Avenue with her children and partner Frances Clayton from 1972 to 1987. While living there she wrote some of her most ground-breaking work, including the From a Land Where Other People Live, which was nominated for a National Book Award. In 1991, Lorde was appointed as the Poet Laureate for New York State for her contributions to literature and activism, a position she held until her death in 1992.

"As people from around the world gather in New York to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall and World Pride, now is the perfect time to preserve our unparalleled LGBTQ history," said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.  "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. 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."

"I'm so proud that New York City has formally recognized these six historic sites and their lasting contributions to the modern LGBTQ civil right movement," said Senator Brad Hoylman. "When I think of the LGBT Center or the Women's Liberation Center being preserved for future generations, I think of my two daughters, and I'm relieved to know that they'll have places to go that celebrate LGBTQ history and the activists who helped make our family possible. My sincere thanks to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for taking this important step today."

"New York City is known around the world as the birthplace of the modern movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, one of the pre-eminent civil rights struggles of our time," said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried. "Preserving physical spaces that were once centers of this struggle for justice provides a vital connection to the battles that we still face today, and it's important to preserve them for future generations."

"These six sites are highly valued and irreplaceable cultural resources for both the LGBT community and New York City as a whole," said Council Member Adrienne Adams, Chair of the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime Uses. "Their loss would diminish the cultural wealth of the city and only landmark status will ensure the preservation of these important structures. The inclusion of these significant sites is a testament to the beautiful diversity of our great city."

“With the formal landmark designation of such sites as The Stonewall Inn and the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse, we are recognizing the central role that New York City played in advancing the LGBTQ rights movement for the rest of the world,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “I thank Chair Carroll and the Landmark Preservation Commission’s action to ensure these sites continue to be spaces where residents and tourists alike can visit iconic spaces in our communities that gave birth to the modern gay rights movement.”

"I commend the Landmarks Preservation Commission's decision to preserve and honor the history of a man who has left an undeniable mark on the world through his contributions to literature, as well as LGBTQIA+ and civil rights," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. "The James Baldwin Residence at 137 West 71st Street, which has been a distinguished part of our community for decades, will now receive the care and recognition it so rightfully deserves through a designation bestowed just as we begin World Pride NYC celebrations this week. Although the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community have been challenged throughout history and even today, it is through actions such as this that we can show our continued support and help to make NYC a safe, welcoming environment for all."

"As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, I am proud that Audre Lorde's home on the North Shore of Staten Island will be officially recognized as a landmark of LGBT history," said Council Member Debi Rose. "Audre Lorde, a self-described "black feminist lesbian warrior poet" who gave the keynote address at the very first March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Liberation in 1975, served as poet laureate of New York State and made lasting contributions though her speeches and her writings. This landmark designation is a fitting celebration of Ms. Lorde's contributions and the ongoing struggle for LGBT equality."

"We are absolutely thrilled by these designations which place the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in the forefront of recognizing the significance of sites relating to the contributions that LGBT people have made to American history and culture," said Andrew S. Dolkart, Co-Director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, a cultural heritage initiative documenting historic LGBT sites in New York City. "We hope that these designations, based in part on our recommendations to the Commission, will be a model not only for continuing recognition in New York City, but for designations across the country beyond Stonewall 50 celebrations."

"These designations are welcome recognition of important LGBT writers, activists and places," said Peg Breen, President of The New York Landmarks Conservancy. "These landmarks acknowledge an important, formative time in the movement for gay rights and LGBT cultural expression." 

"With this action, the Landmarks Preservation Commission is making a strong statement for the importance of preserving NYC's cultural sites and is a remarkable step forward for the official recognition of LGBT history," said Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director of the Historic Districts Council. "This community is an integral part of New York City, and it's fantastic that their contributions are becoming part of our permanent historical record."

About the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC)

The Landmarks Preservation Commission is the mayoral agency responsible for protecting and preserving New York City's architecturally, historically and culturally significant buildings and sites. Since its creation in 1965, LPC has granted landmark status to more than 36,000 buildings and sites, including 1,424 individual landmarks, 120 interior landmarks, 11 scenic landmarks, and 144 historic districts and extensions in all five boroughs. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/landmarks and connect with us via www.facebook.com/NYCLandmarks and www.twitter.com/nyclandmarks.