One of New York City's oldest gay bars designated as individual landmark

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Tuesday, December 6, 2022
One of New York City's oldest gay bars designated as landmark
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The bar on 10th Street has been in business since the 1860s and played an important role in the fight for civil rights for the LGBTQ community.

WEST VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission voted on Tuesday to designate Julius' Bar in the Village as an individual landmark.

The bar on 10th Street has been in business since the 1860s and played an important role in the fight for civil rights for the LGBTQ community.

In the 1960s, the state liquor authority did not allow people to be served alcohol if they were openly gay.

"In 1966, we had something called the sip-in," Julius' Bar manager Nick Gabriellini said. "Where the state liquor authority didn't allow homosexuals to be served alcohol if they were openly gay. So, they staged the sip-in here, and there was a lawsuit."

The sip-in and lawsuit, even before the Stonewall uprising around the corner, would help change New York law.

"The 'Sip-In' at Julius' was a pivotal moment in our city and our nation's LGBTQ+ history, and this designation today marks not only that moment but also Julius' half-century as a home for New York City's LGBTQ+ community," said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. "Honoring a location where New Yorkers were once denied service solely on account of their sexuality reinforces something that should already be clear: LGBTQ+ New Yorkers are welcome anywhere in our city. Let this designation serve as an important reminder to everyone that LGBTQ+ history is New York City history and that, like Julius', the City of New York will always serve as a safe haven for LGBTQ+ people to be safe and feel safe."

The bar is full of other neatly preserved history from woodwork with "cheers" in multiple languages likely from just after the prohibition, to a portrait in oil paint from the 1920s believed to be a mafia girlfriend.

"And some of the cash registers back there have been there since 1941. We still use them today," Gabriellini said.

Gabriellini has worked at the bar for almost 20 years and says more milestones in LGBTQ history have been celebrated in that time, like when marriage equality was passed.

"The bar was packed, and someone put on 'Going to the chapel and going to get married' and the entire bar started crying. And it was such a beautiful moment here," he said.

Gabriellini and regular customers are eager for Julius' to become the landmark it is to them.

"Just knowing that this place I love is famous for this wonderful important event, it made me feel kind of a sense of pride," longtime customer Rob Reynolds said. "All of us regulars who come here week after week for decades, we kind of feel a kinship and ownership."

The building itself is landmarked as historic, and Julius' is on the national registry of historic places. But this designation from the city helps preserve and protect the stories inside.

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