The oldest gay bar in NYC may officially become a landmark

The oldest continuously operating gay bar in New York City, Julius’ in the West Village, will likely soon become a landmark. 

Yesterday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to “calendar” the location, which means that officials will schedule a public hearing to discuss the significance of the site in the near future. It is the first step to officially designating it as a landmark. 

“We have staff working specifically on identifying sites that are significant to the LGBTQ community and heritage in the city,” said Sarah Carroll, the Landmark Preservation Commission’s chair, at the hearing. “And this has always been one that we have been thinking about.”

No exact date for the hearing has yet been announced but Carroll confirmed it would be sometime this fall. 

Julius’, which has been open at 159 West 10th Street by Waverly Place since 1930, is clearly a great selection in the committee’s quest to highlight important LGBTQ+ sites. In fact, in 1966, the bar was the site of a “Sip-In,” a protest against certain regulations that prohibited venues from serving people suspected of being gay. The “Sip-In” was spearheaded by three members of the gay rights organization Mattachine Society three years before the Stonewall riots. 

“With reporters and a photographer in tow, the activists announced that they were homosexuals, asked to be served, and were refused,” reads a plaque that was installed on Julius’ facade by the Village Preservation and the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project earlier this year. “This early gay rights action and the attendant publicity helped to raise awareness of widespread anti-LGBT discrimination and harassment. Julius’ was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.”

“This is a tremendously important step toward conferring much-needed recognition and protection upon this site, which played such an enormously important role in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement,” said Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Village Preservation, in an official statement. “LGBTQ+ and civil rights history like that which is embodied in Julius’ are essential elements of our collective story, and it’s critical that they not be forgotten or erased.”

We, of course, could not agree with the selection more.

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