- New York
New York City honors the legacy of Stonewall
Five decades ago, a riot broke out at Greenwich Village’s Stonewall Inn — an event that many say incited the gay rights movement. And while that event alone is enough to qualify this leafy Manhattan enclave as an integral part of the LGBTQ community, the Village’s storied history began long before.
In town for Pride? Greenwich Village makes the perfect home base — or at least an area worth devoting a few days to exploring. Here’s how to get to know one of Manhattan’s most colorful neighborhoods during, or beyond, NYC Pride.
A Walk Through History
Begin your exploration on MacDougal Street, which, was home to a number of underground gay establishments like The Slide, which was at 117 MacDougal Street. After World War I, this area became a hub for gay Americans, as rent was affordable and the neighborhood had plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants that welcomed people of all orientations. In 1925, Eve Addams Tea Room, at 129 MacDougal Street, offered the city’s lesbian residents a place to come together discreetly.
By the 1950s, many prominent queer literary icons, including author James Baldwin and Beatnik poet Allen Ginsberg, took advantage of the Village’s lively nightlife. At Julius’, a gay bar still in operation at 159 West 10th Street, you can enjoy a drink at the site of an important historical civil rights event. In 1966, four gay activists met and sat at its stools for a “sip-in,” protesting laws that prohibited the sale of alcohol to gay patrons. Reporters from the Village Voice, a local alternative newspaper, snapped photos of the event, which prompted controversy. Later, in the summer of 1969, activists gathered at the Village’s Stonewall Inn for an LGBT uprising. Now a National Historic Landmark recognizing societal progress, the Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher Street, is still lively on weeknights and weekends.
Bleecker Street and Beyond
You can’t visit Greenwich Village without taking a stroll down Bleecker Street, a five-block stretch of cafes, shops and historic “brownstone” townhouses that cuts from north to south. The street used to be a hub of famous luxury retailers. In recent years, a new crop of younger, independent designers has taken over, setting up trendy boutique stores. At Lingua Franca, you can peruse cashmere sweaters stitched with punchy words and phrases, many of which are quotes from female icons. At Bookmarc, the bookshop of legendary designer Marc Jacobs, browse oversized coffee-table books filled with stunning photography, biographies of famous pop culture icons and rare collector’s editions. When hunger builds, you have plenty of choices. For one of New York’s most famous and beloved slices, go to Joe’s Pizza, which stays open until 4 a.m. To satisfy a sweet tooth, many go to the Magnolia Bakery for cupcakes that often attract a long line.
The Jane Hotel and the Rusty Knot are both hot spots during Pride. The Jane Hotel was originally designed as a hotel for sailors who arrived on the Hudson River, which borders the property. The lobby bar is a decadent, cozy, old-world lounge for cocktails. Relax on buttery leather couches by the massive fireplace. During Pride, the hotel’s rooftop opens for parties with DJs and views of the Manhattan skyline. For a lower-key afternoon or night of drinking, the Rusty Knot brings a friendly gay-and-straight crowd together for games of pool, jukebox music and delicious drinks. Their bartenders make the namesake signature cocktail by blending rum, mint and ice.
Music and Masterpieces
Historically, Greenwich Village has been a safe haven for bohemian types and still attracts them. Many local art school students from Cooper Union, New York University and The New School take breaks from classes in one of the most majestic settings in Manhattan: Washington Square Park. In 1889, the square’s epic arch, modeled after Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, was erected to commemorate the centennial of President George Washington’s inauguration. Enjoy the sun on a plot of green grass before visiting the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture. Formed by a band of artists in the 1960s who were unhappy with traditional art school programs, this progressive institute attracts acclaimed teachers and ambitious students. The school holds many lectures and exhibitions that are open to the general public. Nearby White Column, a nonprofit arts center, prides itself in celebrating edgy, under-the-radar artists. The gallery is responsible for giving an early platform to many celebrated artists, including queer trailblazer David Wojnarowicz, who recently received a retrospective at the prestigious Whitney Museum of American Art.
While Harlem is best known for jazz in New York City, the Blue Note in Greenwich Village has become a world-famous venue for jazz musicians since it opened in 1981. Famous names including Sarah Vaughn, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton and Oscar Peterson have taken the stage here, and the venue even has its own record label. The moody, dimly lit Le Poisson Rouge books a wide range of acts — jazz musicians, rock bands and even cabaret acts. For something more easy going, try The Duplex, a piano bar and LGBT institution. Locals flock to it for Broadway singalongs, drag performances and comedy shows.