The Stonewall Inn will now be a permanent fixture in the village after the Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved to make the bar an official city landmark Tuesday.
The vote came following a long public hearing meeting as elected officials, longtime LGBT activists, historians and other New Yorkers threw their support behind the proposal and urged the commission’s panel to protect the property at 51-53 Christopher St.
Stonewall’s landmarking is the latest milestone for the LGBT civil rights movement as the Supreme Court will rule on the legality of same sex marriages in the next few days.
“It’s such a huge win not just for the LGBT New Yorkers, but for LGBT people around the world because Stonewall has been a symbol of freedom and fighting back against LGBT oppression,” said the bar’s co-owner Stacy Lentz, 45.
Stonewall was the site of the June 28, 1969 clash between gay patrons and police who were raiding LGBT bars in the city. The incident led to days of protest and sparked a surge in LGBT civil rights movements around the world.
Elected officials, such as Public Advocate Letitia James and Councilman Corey Johnson, likened the protests to the events in Selma, Alabama and Seneca Falls.
“It must be protected from rapacious developers who want to destroy history,” James told the board.
The designation prohibits any changes to the building’s facade without approval from the city, a move that Lentz said gave a huge sigh of relief to her patrons. Tourists and other visitors checking out the location Tuesday agreed it is a major part of the New York City experience.
“Just the symbolism alone of this place is incredible,” said Joann Holeck, 36, who was visiting the bar with her husband, Trevor, from Edmonton.
“Preserving it, and what it means to New York and the gay community, shows what an important symbol it has become.”
Stonewall becomes the first city landmark designated for its connection to LGBT civil rights movement. Preservationists said they hope the city recognizes other spots like Julius’ Bar at 159 W. 10th St. and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center at 208 W. 13th St.
“New York has been at the forefront of this movement and contains a wealth of sites connected to its history,” said Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation.
Others want the landmarks commission to take a stronger look at locations and properties that have historical significance in the city’s not too distant past. LPC Commissioner Michael Goldblum said the agency should hear those cases.
“It’s a great starting point,” he said of the Stonewall landmark.