The Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday unanimously voted to approve landmark designation for the Stonewall Inn, a West Village bar long considered the birthplace of the LGBT rights movement. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously, and the crowd celebrated the designation of the Stonewall Inn as a city landmark.
"I'm delighted, and I didn't know I would be delighted," said Martin Boyce, a participant in the Stonewall Uprising. "It was just terms to me. I didn't feel the exhilaration until she said that, and I didn't realize that I could still be a part of the gay world. I'm very old now."
Boyce says he was at the Stonewall Inn the night it became historically significant. It was June 28, 1969. Back then, police regularly raided gay bars, but on this night, customers fought back.
"It was brutal, but it was necessary," Boyce said. "Everybody knew someone that was beaten. The police were getting more and more intense. We just couldn't take it."
That uprising was a watershed moment: the birth of the gay rights movement. And with each victory, like state approval of same-sex marriage, many in the LGBT community descended on the Stonewall to celebrate.
"In 2006, it was actually closed, and it could have become a Starbucks or anything else, and my partners and I bought it. So this will just ensure it for future generations," said Stacy Lentz, co-owner of the Stonewall Inn.
The Stonewall is already a National Historic Landmark. It also sits within the Greenwich Village Historic District, a designation that provides significant protections.
Commissioners say their decision to grant the Stonewall city landmark status does not actually create any new regulatory protections, but they believe it will make their successors even more reluctant to permit any structural changes to the building.
The vote also made the Stonewall the first city landmark designated for its ties to LGBT history.
Herzenberg: How much has life changed since then?
Boyce: Completely. I'm married. To a man. So it's very different.
Gay rights activists are pushing the commission for three additional landmarks, but this one took more than a year. So even if approved, it will be some time.