Produced by the experts at the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, tour some of the historic sites on the Upper West Side. This brief collection highlights the neighborhood’s LGBT history through sites of political activism and the performing arts.Less
Central Park has had numerous associations with the LGBT community since its creation in 1857, including many areas popular for meeting and cruising, associations with Gay Pride Marches, and its restoration in the 1980s. Beginning in 1970, the first Gay Pride Marches (then known as the Christopher Street Liberation Day March) followed a route from Greenwich Village to Central Park.
Located at Bethesda Terrace, the "Angel of the Waters" statue atop the Bethesda Fountain is the 1860s masterpiece of lesbian sculptor Emma Stebbins and was the earliest public artwork by a woman in New York City. In Tony Kushner’s AIDS-themed play "Angels in America", the statue formed the backdrop of the final scene of the "Perestroika" section.
The Dakota, the famed apartment building on Central Park West, has long been a home for celebrities, including notable LGBT people in the arts. Former residents include composer Leonard Bernstein, poet Charles Henri Ford, actress Judy Holliday, playwright William Inge, and ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev.
"Portrait of an Unidentified Woman (Lord Cornbury)" is an early 18th century painting in the collection of the New-York Historical Society. It was long thought by some historians to be the corrupt royal governor Lord Cornbury dressed in women’s clothing, or painted as a satire on him, though this is now in dispute.
Richard Hunt was a prominent Muppet performer at The Jim Henson Company, which operated out of the Reeves Teletape Studios, then housed in this building. Hunt worked here from 1969 until shortly before his death, due to AIDS-related complications, in 1992. His first big project was puppeteering several characters, including Forgetful Jones, Gladys the Cow, and the Two-Headed Monster, on Sesame Street.
Between 1968 and 1976, the Continental Baths operated out of the basement space of the then-dilapidated Ansonia Hotel. The legendary Baths combined sex, socializing, and entertainment that especially flourished during the early post-Stonewall liberation years, and helped launch the careers of numerous performers and DJs.
Literary icon and civil rights activist James Baldwin used this Upper West Side remodeled rowhouse as his New York City residence from 1965 until his death in 1987. Although he generally eschewed labels and did not self-identify as gay, Baldwin wrote several novels that featured gay and bisexual characters and spoke openly about same-sex relationships and LGBT issues.
On August 6, 1971, the Gay Activists Alliance held a zap at the West Side YMCA to protest the Y’s discriminatory policies against gay men.
Composer Aaron Copland – one of the most celebrated figures in classical music – lived in the Hotel Empire from 1936 to 1947 during the height of his career. While here, he wrote a number of beloved works, including "Fanfare for the Common Man" and "Appalachian Spring", and helped found organizations that promoted the development of American classical music.
The New York State Theater at Lincoln Center (now the David H. Koch Theater), constructed in 1964 to the designs of architect Philip Johnson, has been associated with several other major LGBT artists, including arts impresario Lincoln Kirstein, choreographers Jerome Robbins, sculptor Jasper Johns, and composer Leonard Bernstein.