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The Stonewall Inn, the center of the LGBT

The Stonewall Inn, the center of the LGBT pride movement, has 10 secrets of its own. (Credit: Getty Images / Yana Paskova)


Secrets of the Stonewall Inn

53 Christopher Street, New York, 10014

The Stonewall Inn: It's known as the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ rights movement and the exact spot where New York City pride began.

The Greenwich Village bar on Christopher Street, the location of the Stonewall riots of 1969, has been said to have kick-started the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender fight for equality.

On June 28, 1969, just after 1 a.m., a raid of the bar turned violent when patrons and locals began to riot against the police. The protests continued for five nights after the raid, resulting in more than 18 arrests.

To mark the significance of those nights, the bar became the city’s first LGBT landmarked venue on June 24, 2016.

Still acknowledged as the center of the gay rights movement, the Stonewall Inn has since served as a central gathering place when tragedy strikes or celebratory milestones are reached within the community.

Below, amNewYork shares 10 of the legendary bar's secrets.

Police raids were common at the Stonewall since

Credit: Getty Images

Patrons had to wear gender-specific clothing or risk arrest

Police raids were common at the Stonewall since its opening in 1967. During the police drop-ins, patrons who weren't wearing at least three pieces of clothing representative of their gender could potentially face arrest, Stacy Lentz, co-owner of the Stonewall Inn, told amNewYork.

Sure, a dress or skirt would suffice as the first item, but it didn't stop there. Both outer and inner garments would be checked by police, Ann Bausum, author of the book "Stonewall" said. That included girdles, bras, stockings and slips for ladies, and socks and underwear for men.

"It was a way to force stereotypical gender conformity on people during the '60s," Bausum said.

Pictured: Carlotta Gurl, a gay rights activist from Vancouver, Canada, celebrates the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states on June 26, 2015, at the Stonewall Inn.

It wasn't until 1967 that gay bars were

Credit: Getty Images

It was once owned by the Mafia

It wasn't until 1967 that gay bars were deemed legal in New York. Before that, they were scarce in the city.

The Mafia took the demand for gay bars as an opportunity to profit, Bausum said. "The Mafia set up these gay bars as a way to make money and used a payoff system with the police to keep them open in a 'wink and a nod' kind of system." In an allegedly agreed upon relationship, the Mafia paid local police precincts in return for being alerted of raids in advance, she said.

Since the Stonewall riots, the name has been

Credit: Getty Images / Yana Paskova

What’s in its name: A coded message?

Since the Stonewall riots, the name has been a symbol of "gay resistance and liberation," according to the bar's National Landmark Preservation report. Before the day that sealed the bar's history in the LGBT rights movement, there was a different meaning behind the term "stonewall."

The name may have been a reference to a book published in 1930 by Ruth Fuller Field, under the pseudonym Mary Casal. Her autobiography, which detailed the romantic relationship between herself and another woman, was titled "The Stone Wall." That same year, the Inn, then a restaurant named Bonnie's Stone Wall, gained traction among locals, author David Carter wrote in his book "Stonewall." The restaurant was known in the area as a tea room, notorious for serving alcohol during Prohibition. The similarities between the name of the tea room and the title of Casal's book may have been a way to send a coded message to locals that lesbians would be welcome, Bausum said.

Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

The Stonewall Inn is haunted, staff members say

"We think we have ghosts," Lentz said. "Doors slam if no one is there, so we say there are two guys and one girl ghost upstairs. It's an ongoing, running joke."

In the rooms upstairs that serve as storage, the staff has claimed to have had numerous run-ins with the "Stonewall ghosts."

If there was a bar in NYC today

Credit: Newsday / Ken Sawchuck

It was once a popular hangout for homeless youth

If there was a bar in NYC today that let you drink and stay all night for a $3 cover, you'd probably stop barhopping. When the Stonewall first opened in 1967, it was known as a popular hangout for homeless LGBT youth, Lentz said. For $3, patrons could stay the night without any pressure to rack up a tab.

The Stonewall also gained popularity among local youth thanks to its two dance floors and jukebox -- a rarity at the time, Bausum said. "The backroom jukebox created a very avant-garde feel," she said. "It was a place where you could be counterculture and feel completely surrounded by like-minded people."

Pictured: Marchers make their way down Christopher Street as part of the International March for Lesbian and Gay Freedom in Greenwich Village on Sept. 30, 1984.

President Barack Obama designated the Stonewall Inn and

Credit: Newsday / Erica Berger

The first national monument dedicated to LGBT history

President Barack Obama designated the Stonewall Inn and surrounding area a national monument on June, 24, 2016, the five-year anniversary of the passage of the Marriage Equality Act in New York. It's the first national monument that focuses on the history of LGBT rights.

The monument's 7.7 acres of land include the Stonewall Inn, Christopher Park and surrounding streets. The National Parks Conservation Association fought for two years to convince Obama to allow Christopher Park to become a national park.

"The events of 1969 marked the birth of the modern LGBT movement and sparked movements for years to bring us where we are now," Cortney Worall, the National Parks Conservation Association's senior regional director in charge of the Stonewall park, said. "With no sites dedicated to the LGBT history, we knew that Stonewall was the area that needed to be included in the story of civil rights struggles."

Pictured: The sign on Christopher Street was changed to Stonewall Place on June 6, 1989.

Actress Judy Garland, who played Dorothy in the

Credit: Getty Images

The Dorothy costume is a nod to Judy Garland’s death

Actress Judy Garland, who played Dorothy in the 1939 classic "The Wizard of Oz," was known for having a huge gay following, Lentz noted. Garland was so beloved within the community that her death on June 22, 1969, is rumored to be one of the causes of the Stonewall riots that took place six days later.

"People say that the riots happened because the queens were really mad that she died," Lentz said. Lentz hung a Dorothy costume in Stonewall's window in 2006 in Garland's honor, where it has remained ever since.

As a nationally recognized landmark, the Stonewall Inn's

Credit: Marie Claire Andrea

Only two parts of the Stonewall’s exterior have changed since 1930

As a nationally recognized landmark, the Stonewall Inn's exterior cannot be significantly altered. In turn, the facade of the building remains exactly the same as it appeared in the '30s -- except for two parts.

Since the riots left the Stonewall's windows smashed, they are no longer original. The first Stonewall Inn sign was taken down after its closure in the '90s, Lentz said. The bar hopes to locate and reattach the sign in its rightful place, she added.

Known as the

Credit: Olga Loginova via YouTube

People come for the pride, they stay for the ‘Legendary Tree’

Known as the "Legendary Tree," Tree Sequoia, 77, has been bartending at the Stonewall for the past 30-plus years. As the bar's sole veteran, Tree serves up more than just drinks.

Tourists drop in to listen to his stories, Lentz said. "He tells stories of the time period and what it was like to be gay back then," she said. He even gives history talks to local school groups and universities that visit the bar.

The Stonewall Inn collects money from patrons who

Credit: iStock

Why there’s money tacked on the wall

The Stonewall Inn collects money from patrons who visit from all over the globe. When a tourist visits from a foreign country, the bar tacks a bill in their currency up on the "money wall," Lentz said.


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