NYC’s Oldest Gay Bar May Soon Get Landmark Status – NBC New York
Before the Stonewall Inn became known as the birthplace of the gay rights movement in the United States, and the riots that helped bring the movement into the national spotlight, there was Julius’.
Located in the heart of Greenwich Village at West 10th Street and Waverly Place, manager Adan Garcia said being in the bar is like being inside a living museum. The historical history that took place here is on full display in the pictures hanging on the walls.
Now there’s an effort to preserve that history, with an official New York City Landmark designation being one step closer to reality for the legendary establishment.
“It’s a landmark for me. I’m sure it’s a landmark for a lot of people who come through those doors,” Garcia said.
Julius’ has been a bar since 1864. It was propelled to the forefront of the gay rights movement in 1966, three years before the Stonewall riots.
Photos show three members of the Mattachine Society, a gay rights organization, challenging a regulation prohibiting law societies from serving LGBTQ people. Activists staged a peaceful ‘sip’, announcing they are gay and asking to be served.
In a photo that caught the attention of the media, a bartender at Julius’ house held his hand over their glasses and refused to serve them.
“For me, that’s still beyond me,” Garcia said.
The struggle for LGBTQ equality goes back much further than the Stonewall riots, notes author Eric Cervini discussing his new book “The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual versus the United States of America.”
Andrew Dolkart, with the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, is one of the people fighting for Julius’ Bar to get a city landmark designation. He said it would formalize the bar’s importance in the history of New York and the United States.
“These young men who participated in this event, it was incredibly brave,” Dolkart said. “We need to know where we’ve been, where we are and where we need to go.”
The city’s landmarks and preservation committee held a public hearing Monday in which many spoke about why the Greenwich Village stalwart should be recognized. For now, the bar is waiting, but Adan is already planning the party.
“I’m going to make sure everything is perfectly decorated,” he said.
There was no opposition to the proposal at the hearing. For the next step, the commission will hold a public hearing for a vote.