"Christopher Street and the Stonewall Inn" Top 5 Page for this destination West Village Tip by toonsarah

West Village, New York City: 3 reviews and 6 photos

  Plaque at the Stonewall Inn
by toonsarah
  • Plaque at the Stonewall Inn - New York City
      Plaque at the Stonewall Inn
    by toonsarah
  • Greenwich Village street signs - New York City
      Greenwich Village street signs
    by toonsarah

In my opinion Christopher Street and the western end of West 4th Street that intersects it are among the prettiest in Greenwich Village. Brick terraces, interesting little shops, even cobbles in places – at times it feels as if you must be somewhere in Europe. And while the energy and bustle of most of Manhattan is a major part of its attraction, it is nice now and then to find somewhere more relaxing and laid-back to explore.

But this hasn’t always been the quiet haven it is now. At number 53 Christopher Street is the Stonewall Inn, site of the infamous Stonewall riots of 1969. The following is an extract from Time Out magazine, displayed in their window and quoted on the website:

”It was 1:20 a.m. when eight cops stomped into the Stonewall Inn, a dive in Manhattan's Greenwich Village district that had no liquor license but served watery drinks to a mix of drag queens, street kids, gay professionals and closeted and straight mafiosi (who ran the place). Within two hours, the Village was bleeding and burning as hundreds rioted. How did the nightly saturnalia at Stonewall produce protests that would kick start the modern gay-rights movement? The uprising was inspirited by a potent cocktail of pent-up rage (raids of gay bars were brutal and routine), overwrought emotions (hours earlier, thousands had wept at the funeral of Judy Garland) and drugs…

Later, the deputy police inspector in charge would explain that day's impact: ‘For those of us in [the] public morals [division], things were completely changed ... Suddenly they were not submissive anymore.’ Today gays and lesbians memorialize that night each year with a weekend of rallies, parades and parties – a spectacle as inspiring and raunchy as the Stonewall itself.”

Within weeks of the Stonewall riots, Village residents organised themsleves into activist groups to concentrate efforts on establishing places for gays and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation without fear of being arrested. And within two years of the riots there were gay rights groups in every major American city, as well as Canada, Australia, and Western Europe. Today a plaque on the wall of the Inn commemorates the riots and the resulting gradual relaxation of both laws and attitudes, as does the sculpture of four white figures by George Segal opposite in leafy Christopher Park. The Inn itself is a popular gay hangout and I imagine a pretty lively one, but when we passed by on a midweek afternoon it was quiet and peaceful.

North-west of Washington Square. The nearest subway stations are Christopher Street (line 1) or West 4th St / Washington Square (lots of lines)

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Nov 13, 2008
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