Wednesday, 14 January 2009


The Stonewall Inn (partially above) at 51, Christopher Street (between West 4th Street and Waverly Place), and its surrounding area also known as Stonewall, was the site of the famous Stonewall Riots of 1969. Originally constructed between 1845 and 1846 as stables, it was turned into a restaurant until it was gutted by fire in the mid-6o's, thereafter opening as The Stonewall Inn, becoming the largest gay establishment in NYC.

A routine police raid on the bar gave birth to the gay-rights movement. On June 28th, 1969, an inspector and seven other policeman from the Public Moral Section closed the bar claiming that liquor was being sold without a license and announced that all employees would be arrested and customers without identification and likely cross-dressers would be questioned.

As these suspects were being loaded into a paddy-wagon, their friends and fellow patrons surprised the police and started throwing pennies, cans, bottles, and bricks at the officers, who retreated into the bar. The fight escalated when the mob broke the front window and set the bar on fire. What started out as another example of police harassment against gay people sparked a revolution. This act of defiance and the four days of rioting that followed marked a turning point in the quest for equal rights for gays and lesbians.

The Stonewall Rebellion victory is commemorated each year in the Gay Pride March in June in New York City and throughout the country.
A few months after the riots, The Stonewall Inn closed and over the next 20 years the space was occupied by various other establishments, with many visitors and new residents unaware of the building's history or its connection with the Stonewall Riots. However, in the early 1990's, a new gay bar, named simply "Stonewall" opened in the west half of the original Stonewall Inn.
Each year during the Pride March crowds gather outside the Stonewall Inn to enjoy its rich history.

No comments: