New York bar considered birthplace of U.S. gay rights movement declared a landmark

Tue Jun 23, 2015 6:06pm EDT
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By Sebastien Malo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Stonewall Inn, a New York City bar widely recognized as the birthplace of the U.S. gay rights movement, was granted historic landmark status by city officials on Tuesday.

The unanimous vote by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission was hailed by gay activists and supporters of the designation who cheered and embraced in an emotional scene.

"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," said commission chair Meenakshi Srinivasan.

The Stonewall Inn became an instant gay rights symbol when riots spontaneously erupted on June 28, 1969 following a police raid at the Greenwich Village tavern known for serving a gay clientele in an era of intolerance toward homosexuality.    

The episode was later dubbed the "Stonewall Rebellion."

"The designation of the Stonewall Inn as an individual landmark represents one of the city's most powerful movements in our era to change the nation," Srinivasan said.

The bar remains an outpost of gay nightlife, easily recognizable by its red neon sign and rainbow flags that flutter above its storefront window and entrance. It is located in a two-story building with a red brick-and-stucco facade at 53 Christopher Street.

Jim Fouratt, 74, who said he participated in the protests, held back tears and said he struggled to contain his emotions after the commission's announcement, which he attended.   Continued...

A neon sign shines in the window of the Stonewall Inn in New York, June 23, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson