NYC’S PROUD HISTORY

It’s Pride Month! We’re taking you on a tour of New York City’s LGBT historic sites.

Aired on June 20, 2018. 

TRANSCRIPT

> EACH YEAR THOUSANDS FROM AROUND THE WORLD DESCEND ON THE BIG APPLE TO CELEBRATE LOVE, DIVERSITY AND ACCEPTANCE AT THE NYC PRIDE PARADE.

COMMEMORATING THE STONE WALL RIOTS THAT SERVED AS A TIPPING POINT FOR THE GAY LIBERATION MOVEMENT.

THE CITY HORNS THE PEOPLE AND THE PLACES THAT BROUGHT ABOUT CHANGE FOR LGBT COMMUNITY.

HOWEVER WHILE WELL-KNOWN LANDMARKS ARE KNOWN.

THERE ARE MANY OTHER HISTORIC SITES THROUGH THE AREA THAT PLAYED CRUCIAL ROLES.

NOW THE NEW YORK CITY LGBT HISTORIC SITES PROJECT IS COMMEMORATING THEM FOR A CLOSE UPLOOK AT THE SITE.

WELCOME TO ALL OF YOU.

THANK YOU.

ANDREA, YOU FIRST TELL ME HOW THE PROBABILITY GOT STARTED.

THE LGBT HISTORIC SITES PROJECT IS A PIONEERING EFFORT TO IDENTIFY AND ANALYZE IN A SCHOLARLY MANNER SITES OF SIGNIFICANCE IN THE HISTORY OF THE LGBT COMMUNITY IN NEW YORK CITY AND BEYOND THAT ITS IMPACT ON AMERICA.

AND WE LIKE TO SAY WE ARE MAKING INVISIBLE HISTORY VISIBLE BECAUSE WITH PEOPLE DON'T KNOW THE LGBT HISTORY ALL AROUND THEM.

THIS PROJECT WAS BEGUN BY KEN AND MYSELF AND OUR COLLEAGUE JAY SHOCKLY.

AND OUR STAFF PERSON AMANDA DAVIS.

WE ARE ALL PRODUCTS OF THE HISTORIC PRESERVATION PROGRAM AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY'S ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL.

WE ARE SITE BASED.

WE BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF SITES TO TELL STORIES.

AND THAT PEOPLE CAN REALLY CONNECT WITH SITES.

SO WE UNDERTOOK THIS INVESTIGATION OF LGBT SITES.

WE HAVE BEEN INTERESTED IN THIS A LONG TIME, ABOUT 25 YEARS AGO WE WERE PART OF A TEAM THAT DID A MAP FOR STONE WALL 25 THAT IDENTIFIED SITES IN GREENWICH VILLAGE AND HARLEM AND MIDTOWN.

AND ALSO PART OF THE TEAM THAT WROTE THE NATIONAL REGISTER NOMINATION FOR STONE WALL, THE FIRST SITE RECOGNIZED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR ITS LGBT SIGNIFICANCE.

AND WHEN THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE WAS OFFERING GRANTS IN 2016 FOR UNDERRECOGNIZED COMMUNITIES, WE APPLIED AND GOT THIS GRANT.

AND WE -- WE STARTED THE RESEARCH AND THE WEBSITE.

AND THERE ARE REALLY TWO THINGS THAT WE'RE PARTICULARLY INTERESTED IN.

BEYOND JUST IDENTIFYING SITES WHERE POLITICAL EVENTS TOOK PLACE OR GAY BARS, WE WANTED TO SHOW THE IMPACT THAT LGBT PEOPLE HAVE HAD ON THE CULTURE OF AMERICA, OF NEW YORK CITY AND AMERICA.

SO WE ARE LOOKING AT SITES RELATING TO THE -- TO THE ARTS AND LITERATURE AND THE POLITICS AND THE ECONOMY AND ALL KINDS OF SITES.

AND THE OTHER THING WE ARE REALLY INTERESTED IN SHOWING PEOPLE IS THAT THERE IS A VIBRANT LGBT HISTORY THAT DATES FROM BEFORE STONE WALL.

I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT YOU MENTION HOW SITES CAN BE SIGNIFICANT ELEMENTS OF STORYTELLING.

ABSOLUTELY.

WE TEND TO THANKSGIVING OF PEOPLE.

BUT THE SITES.

AND THERE IS AN INTERACTIVE MAP TELL ME ABOUT THAT.

SURE WE ARE PUTTING LGBT HISTORY ON THE MAP BY LOOKING AT NEW YORK CITY THROUGH AN LGBT LENS.

THE PUBLIC CAN JUMP ON THE WEBSITE, LOOK AT 130 SITES WE FULLY DOCUMENTED.

WE HAVE 350 PLUS ON A DATABASE WE WILL BED ADDING.

AND EACH SITE HAS A SIGNIFICANTSCRIPTION FOLLOWED BY CONTEMPORARY AND ARCHIVAL MINIMALS AND MULTIMEDIA AND SUCH.

IT'S AN ONLINE EXHIBITION OF EACH SITE.

WE ARE SO SITE-BASED WE LIKE TO HAVE EACH CATEGORY OF BUILDINGS.

WE HAVE BARS AND CLUBS, PORMDS VENUES, NOTABLE RESIDENCES AND SO ON.

AND EEP ONE OF THOSE IS ATTACHED TO A STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE FOR EACH SITE.

YOU CAN UNDERSTAND IF IT'S RELATED TO ACTIVISM, LITERATURE.

IT'S NOT JUST GREAT CULTURAL REFERENCES BUT SCLRLY REFERENCES, THE HISTORY IS IMPORTANT PART.

IT'S A VERY IMPORTANT POINT TO MAKE THAT THIS IS A SCHOLARLY ENDEAVOR.

EVERYTHING IS CITED.

WE HAVE RESOURCES.

PEOPLE CAN LOOK AT THIS AS A LAUNCHING PAD OR ADDITIONAL HISTORY AND INFORMATION.

LET ME TOUCH WITH YOU ON A FEW OF THE SITES.

GIVE PEOPLE A SENSE OF WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT AND WE'LL BOUNCE AROUND BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU AND SOME OF THE LOCATIONS HERE.

IF WE STARTED IN BROOKLYN TELL ME ABOUT THE WALT WHITTMAN RESIDENCE WHY THAT'S SIGNIFICANT.

MOST PEOPLE KNOW OF WALT WHITTMAN AS ONE OF THE GREATEST AMERICAN POETS IF NOT GREATEST POET.

BUT WLT WHITTMAN WAS A NEW YORK CITY RESIDENT LIVING IN THE CITY BETWEEN 1823 AND 1862.

HE LIVED IN 32 LOCATIONS AND BOUNCING AROUND A LOT.

WHICH WAS SORT OF TYPICAL OF HIM AT THE TIME BUT HE MOVED INTO THIS RESIDENCE WITH HIS MOTHER AND FATHER A AND SIBLINGS IN MAY OF 185 A THEY BOUGHT THE BUILDING THEY LIVED HERE AIER AND MOVED OUT IN MAY OF 1856.

IT'S AT THAT LOCATION HE WAS LIVING WHEN HIS COLLECTION LEAVES OF GRASS WAS PUBLISHED IN JUNE OF 185 A.

WALT RAN BACK AND FORTH FROM THIS SECTION TO BROOKLYN HEIGHTS AT THE PRINTING SHOP OVERSEEING THE GALLIES.

AT THE SAME TIME SOON AFTER THAT HE WAS SHREWD ENOUGH TO SEND A COPY OF LEAVES OF GRASS TO RALPH WALDECK O EMERSON WHO WAS SO MOVED BY IT THAT HE CAME AND VISITED HIM IN DECEMBER OF 1855.

AND LAUNCHED HIS CAREER.

YES.

IT'S A RARE EXAMPLE OF A CONNECTION TO A BUILT LOCATION TO WALT WHITTMAN.

LET ME ASK YOU TO RUN THROUGH THREE MANHATTAN SPOTS WE HAVE.

THE AARON COPELAND RESIDENCE, RESTON RESIDENCE AND THE WINTER GARDEN THEETER

BECAUSE WE ARE INTERESTED IN THE IMPACT IN THE LGBT COMMUNITY HAD ON CULTURE WE LOOKED AT THE IMPACT ON THEATER.

WE FOCUSED ON THE WINTER GARDEN THEATER BECAUSE IN 1957 THAT WAS WHERE WEST SIDE STORY OPENED.

AND WEST SIDE STORY ALMOST THE ENTIRE TEAM WAS GAY, BISEXUAL.

STEVEN SONDE HEIM AS THE LYRICIST.

AND PERSON CONCEIVED AND CHOREOGRAPHED IT JEROME ROBINS AND ARTHUR LAWRENCE WHO WROTE THE BOOK.

APPEAR IRENE SHERIFF WAS THE COSTUME DESIGNER

THIS ENORMOUS COLLECTION OF TALENT.

AND GENE ROSENTHAL THE LIGHTING DESIGNER.

WE THOUGHT WELL WEST SIDE STORY, A GREAT ENTREY INTO DISCUSSING THE THEATER.

ONCE WE INVESTIGATED WEST SIDE STORY, THE HISTORY OF THE WINTER GARDEN THEATER EXPANDED BECAUSE SO MANY OTHER LGBT PEOPLE HAD -- HAD IMPORTANT CONNECTIONS THERE.

VINCENT MINELLI BEFORE HE WENT TO HOLLYWOOD AND WHEN HE WAS OUT IN NEW YORK PRODUCED THREE SHOWS IN THE 1930s.

JERRY HERMANN NAME OPINION MARY MARTIN APPEAR IN PETER PAN.

MICHAEL BENNETT WHO CHOREOGRAPHED STEVEN SONDE HEIM'S FOLLY.

AND THE RICH HISTORY OF RICHT PEOPLE IN THEATER CULTURE WAS REALLY IMPORTANT.

LET ME -- LET ME ASK IT.

-- THERE ARE A COUPLE OF OTHERS WE DON'T HAVE TIME TO GET TO ALL OF THEM GENEVIEVE'S RESIDENTS AND ALL OF THAT.

BUT I WANT PEOPLE TO GO TO THE INTERACTIVE MAP.

BUT LAST QUESTION FOR THE TWO OF YOU.

THEMES.

WHAT SORT OF THEMES ARE YOU LOOKING TO EMPHASIZE HERE?

KEN START WITH WITH YOU AND ANDREA YOU CAN JUMP IN.

PEOPLE CAN JUMP ON THE WEBSITE AND SEE WE HAVE CURE EIGHTED THEMES RIGHT NOW.

INTSD OF GOING TO THE MAP YOU CAN LOOK AT TRANSGENDER HISTORY.

JEWISH LIFE ALL ASSOCIATINGED WITH LGBT SORT OF PEOPLES AS WELL AS THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE.

AND A GAY LEONARD SAND.

WE STARTED AS HISTORIC PRESERVATION PROJECT.

WITH YOU NOW WE LOOK AT IT AS A HISTORIC PRESERVATION SOCIAL JUSTICE PROBABILITY IN A SENSE.

MAKING SURE YOUNGER AND OLDER PEOPLE WHO DON'T KNOW THE HISTORY FEEL CONNECTED AND LEARN FROM THE PAST AND THIS HISTORY CAN INFORM CURRENT IDEOLOGY HOW THEY ARE POLITICIZED NOW.

THAT'S ONE BROAD THEME WE FEEL IS IMPORTANT TO TELL.

I THINK ALSO REALLY IMPORTANT TO IS THAT WE ARE ATTEMPTING TO BE AS DIVERSE AS POSSIBLE.

WE HAVE SITES REPRESENTING EVERY CONCEIVABLE GROUP IN NEW YORK AND WE'RE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR NEW SITES.

SO WE'RE ALWAYS WELCOMING THE INPUT OF THE PUBLIC.

PEOPLE WATCHING AND LISTENING HOPEFULLY HAVE -- I HAVE AN IDEA.

ABSOLUTELY.

WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM THE PUBLIC WITH IDEAS FOR THE SITES.

IT'S WONDERFUL THAT IT'S A SENSE OF LIVING HISTORY.

ABSOLUTELY.

AND SO MANY STORIES PEOPLE DON'T KNOW.

I WOULD SUSPECT THAT YOU ARE GETTING AN AWFUL LOT OF WOW, I DIDN'T KNOW THAT BUT I'M GLAD I DO NOW.

IT'S A MARVELLOUS PROJECT.

WE'LL GET YOU BACK AND TALK MORE ABOUT IT DOWN THE ROAD.

KEN AND ANDREA THANK YOU SO MUCH.

GREAT WORK.

MUCH APPRECIATE IT THANKS.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE HISTORIC WALKING TOUR LOG ONTO METROFOCUS.ORG.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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