Oldest NYC Gay Bar On its Way to Landmark Status

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday September 14, 2022

Julius' Bar — the oldest gay bar in New York City — moved closer to being declared a landmark after a nine-year push by activists, 6sqft reported.

Village Preservation is behind the efforts to get the bar landmarked.

The group announced on Sept. 13 that "the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted to 'calendar' or finally begin formal consideration of the building housing Julius' Bar at 159 West 10th Street/188 Waverly Place for landmark designation."

"We first proposed the circa 1825 building that houses one of the city's oldest continuously operating bars and its oldest gay bar for landmark designation nearly a decade ago, along with three other sites of extreme importance to LGBTQ+ civil rights history: the Stonewall Inn, the LGBT Community Center, and the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse," the group's announcement went on to add. "While those were landmarked in 2015 and 2019 the LPC resisted landmarking Julius' until now."

Julius' Bar played a part in the early days of the LGBTQ+ equality struggle, local news outlet NY1 reported.

"In 1966, the bar was the site of what was called a 'Sip-In,' a protest against regulations that made it illegal to serve people suspected of being gay or lesbian," NY1 noted.

"'Calendaring' a site, or scheduling a public hearing to discuss its significance, is the first official step in the process of designating a landmark," explained.

The bar first opened in 1930, and, in the '50s, "became a popular gathering place for gay men," the report detailed.

"By the early 1960s, the city had begun taking steps to crack down on bars and restaurants that served gay people, as the State Liquor Authority had deemed serving them illegal," NY1 said. "A police raid stemming from that crackdown sparked the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, which served as a turning point for the city's LGBTQ rights movement."

"In 2012, we got it determined eligible for the State and National Register of Historic Places, when few sites anywhere in the country had received such a determination based upon LGBTQ+ history," Village Preservation said, underscoring how long the push has taken, and how much progress the latest development represents.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.