WEST VILLAGE, Manhattan (PIX11) — After a decade-long fight, New York City’s oldest gay bar has become a landmark.
Julius’ also played a key role in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in the city.
“It’s a place where everybody can come in all generations, and they come in, and they exchange ideas, learn some history and learn from each other, which is kind of unique,” said Helen Buford, the owner of Julius’.
On April 21, 1966, a sip-in was held at Julius’, inspired by the sit-in protests of the civil rights movement. Three men walked into Julius’, said they were gay and ordered drinks. They were denied service, raising awareness of the unequal treatment of New York’s LGBTQ community.
“Gay men could not congregate openly in a bar. You know there would be raids, the bar would be closed. You could be arrested. Gay men could not congregate openly in a bar,” Buford explained.
New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate Julius’ Bar as a landmark on Tuesday.
Andrew Berman, of Village Preservation, said he worked on the effort for over a decade “to make sure that these kinds of histories are in fact protected and recognize that can’t be destroyed or torn down at the whim of developer or owner.”
Mayor Eric Adams and Councilmember Erik Bottcher stopped by Julius’ after the West Village site became a landmark.
“We want future generations to come here and learn what happened here,” Bottcher said.