New Yorkers were excited Wednesday at the prospect of the first national monument recognizing the LGBT community across from the historic Stonewall Inn.
The monument, to consist of the small park across from the bar and some of the surrounding area, is intended to recognize the Stonewall riots, a week of violent clashes in 1969 on Christopher Street between people from the bar and police, who had periodically raided the bar, arresting gays under morals laws of the era.
“What a perfect place. Where else would you put it?” said Neil Hellstrom, 33, a South African native who lives near Chelsea now. “It’s the gay street of America. I think New York is such a melting pot, and LGBT as an acronym is a melting pot. It’s such a great city to do it.”
In 1999, the bar was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And last year it was designated as the city’s first LGBT landmarked venue.
On Wednesday, tourists stopped by to take photos in the chilly spring weather.
“It’s just incredible for the LGBT community and making us part of the landscape of the history of this country,” said Stacy Lentz, an investor and spokeswoman for the Stonewall Inn. “As far as the bar and what it represents, it’s exciting having it federally recognized.”
As for New York becoming the home to the first ever such landmark: “In fairness, this is the birthplace,” Lentz said. “It should be the first.”
Upper West Side resident Jeffery Gould, 49, said he used to come to the bar many years ago, and said he hopes the monument has far-reaching effects.
“It sets the tone for gay rights in America,” he said. “New York is the first for everything. It’s a trendsetter.”
Upper East Side resident Amy Miller, 63, said she can’t think of a better spot than across from the Stonewall.
“It’s the perfect place. I think it’s great,” she said. “It was the start of it. It’s an acknowledgment for the community. It’s supporting them, which I think is great.”