The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project: Engaging a Modern Audience
New York City is home to countless historic and cultural sites associated with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, yet only one—the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village—has been officially recognized by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). That site, designated a New York City Landmark by the LPC in June 2015, had previously been listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999 and named a National Historic Landmark in 2000. [In June 2016] President Barack Obama designated the Stonewall National Monument with boundaries that include the two buildings that housed the original bar, even though federal ownership only applies to nearby Christopher Park. Stonewall also became a New York State Historic Site last year.
As important as Stonewall is in telling the history of the LGBT community, it’s not the only site out there. Across the country and overseas, preservation professionals have begun taking a more serious look at the importance of preserving the LGBT community’s long “invisible” history. As Jay Shockley, co-director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, has pointed out, it’s ironic that so many LGBT preservationists have worked for decades to protect the country’s built heritage, yet only 11 of the more than 92,000 sites on the National Register have been listed for their LGBT significance.