NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

Ken Lustbader

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is a cultural heritage initiative and educational resource documenting historic sites connected to the LGBT community in New York City. Historic preservationists Andrew Dolkart, Ken Lustbader, and Jay Shockley founded the project with initial support from the National Park Service Underrepresented Communities Program. The project builds off of the nation’s first map for LGBT historic sites in New York City, which they helped create in 1994 while part of the Organization of Lesbian and Gay Architects + Designers (OLGAD).

The project’s mission to make an invisible history visible includes publishing historical narratives on its website, researching and nominating LGBT sites to the National Register of Historic Places, curating walking tours, presenting lectures, engaging the community through events, and developing education opportunities.

The project website features a map with over 150 diverse places from the 17th century to 2000 that are important to LGBT history and illustrate the community’s influence on New York City and American culture. Last year, the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project worked with the National Parks Conservation Association to develop the LGBT History Tour, Greenwich Village NYC. This printed tour and map is being distributed at the Stonewall National Monument, which memorializes the Stonewall Uprising of June 1969, considered a key turning point in the LGBT rights movement in the United States. More recently, in partnership with the New York State Historic Preservation Office, the project completed the Historic Context Statement for LGBT History in New York City, which will be used as a guide to help future advocacy and evaluation of LGBT place-based history.

The project disseminates its content through social media channels, community presentations, and walking tours in order to show the public that LGBT history is American history. This has helped influence new research projects and raise awareness about pre-Stonewall LGBT place-based heritage. It also fosters a sense of pride among LGBT youth. The project is part of a new group of independent projects throughout the country and internationally that are looking more closely at LGBT place-based heritage.