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NY's Stonewall Inn gets landmark status

Wed 24 Jun 2015 In: International News View at Wayback

The iconic Stonewall Inn, where the lgbt rights movement was born, has been made an official New York landmark. The vote from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission was unanimously in favour. The Christopher St site was the starting point of the Stonewall Rebellion. In the late 1960s, when few establishments welcomed lgbt people, repressive laws made it impossible for a gay bar to obtain a liquor licence, and police raids on gay and lesbian clubs were routine. At about 1:20 a.m. on June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn was raided as part of a crackdown on New York City gay clubs. Instead of leaving the premises, the patrons of the bar remained waiting in front of the club where they were joined by friends and passers-by, mostly members of the lgbt community. As the crowd grew, its members became increasingly angry at the rough treatment some were receiving and resentful of the unfairness of the situation. For more than two hours, the crowd fought back while anti-riot police tried to clear the streets. The protests and confrontations continued for the next few days until almost midnight Wednesday July 2, 1969, with the Stonewall Inn often at the centre of events. The Stonewall uprising ushered in a new phase in the lgbt liberation movement. Within a few months, in direct response to Stonewall, several activist organisations were formed in New York City, including the Gay Liberation Front, the Gay Activists Alliance, Radicalesbians, and the Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries. It was a movement which echoed around the world, including in New Zealand, and commemorations of the riots ultimately sparked the Pride events we have today. The Stonewall Inn is the first place in the US associated with lgbt history to receive landmark status. The two buildings that comprised the Stonewall Inn were originally built in the 1840s as stables, and in 1930 were merged at the first story and given a unified façade. Their combined ground floor commercial space originally housed a bakery, and in 1934 it was taken over by the Stonewall Inn Restaurant. The property reopened in 1967 as a gay club, retaining the name Stonewall Inn. "New York City’s greatness lies in its inclusivity and diversity,” says Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan. “The events at Stonewall were a turning point in the lgbt rights movement and in the history of our nation. This building is a symbol of a time when lgbt New Yorkers took a stand and vowed that they would no longer live in the shadows, standing up for the equal rights of all New Yorkers. “I am proud that the Commission has designated this very special site as an individual landmark and that we have officially recognised the significance of the Stonewall Inn to the history of our city."     

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 24th June 2015 - 9:00am

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