Landmarks Calendars Julius’ Bar for Consideration as an Individual Landmark

Julius’ Bar. Image Credit: LPC.

The bar played a role in establishing LGBTQ+ social spaces and stopping discrimination from the State Liquor Authority. On September 13, 2022, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to calendar Julius’ Bar for consideration as an Individual Landmark. Julius’ Bar, located at 159 W 10th Street at the corner of W 10th Street and Waverly Place in Greenwich Village, is a notable part of the city’s LGBTQ+ history. The site is located within the Greenwich Village Historic District, but the additional distinction as an individual landmark can recognize the bar’s role in the development of LGBTQ+ social spaces.

The building home to Julius’ Bar was originally constructed as three separate buildings. The original piece is the corner portion at Waverly Place, built in 1826. The western part of the structure was built in 1845, and the buildings were raised to their current height in 1874. At this time the buildings may have also been connected. The building’s original facades were stripped and coated with stucco in the 1920s, which created an Arts-and-Crafts style look that was fashionable in the area at the time. 

A bar has been present at the location since the 1860s. Julius’ was founded around 1930.  Between 1959 and 1966, the police used undercover stings to entrap and arrest gay New Yorkers in bars and restaurants. The State Liquor Authority supported this discrimination through the practice of routinely revoking liquor licenses for establishments with LGBTQ+ customers, under the belief that the very presence of LGBTQ+ patrons was disorderly. 

Over the 1950’s, the Greenwich Village LGBTQ+ community shifted toward Sheridan Square, and more gay men began meeting at Julius’ even though the management at the time was unwelcoming. In April 1966, members of the Mattachine Society organized a “Sip-In” at Julius’ to highlight the discrimination. Earlier that year, Julius’ had been raided by the police and was facing possible consequences from the State Liquor Authority. The members entered the bar, ordered their drinks and announced that they were gay. The bartender denied them service, and the members publicized the event, and the Sip-In was even covered in the New York Times

After the Sip-In, the City’s head of the Commission on Human Rights William H. Booth pledged a commitment to end discrimination against gay New Yorkers. The Mattachine Society members unsuccessfully sued the State Liquor Authority, but a later court ruling found that the presence of gay customers on its own did not make an establishment disorderly and that the State Liquor Authority could no longer shutter a bar due to the arrest of a single gay patron (Chipman Associates, Inc. v. New York State Liquor Auth., 363 N.Y.S.2d 162 (N.Y. App. Div. 4th Dept. 1975)).

The Sip-In at Julius’ is considered one of the key events in the development of LGBTQ+ social spaces and establishment of legitimate gay bars. The bar now openly embraces the LGBTQ+ community, and holds “Mattachine Parties” that celebrate LGBTQ+ icons. Julius’ was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.

Landmarks Chair Sarah Carroll stated, “We have staff specifically working on identifying sites that are significant to the LGBTQ community and heritage in the city. And [Julius’] has always been one that we have been thinking about.” Chair Carroll thanked the LGBT Historic Sites Project for their collaboration in continuing to identify significant sites.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously voted to calendar the Julius’ Bar building. A public hearing will be held at a later date. 

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018).

LPC: Julius’ Bar Building (LP-2663 September 13, 2022).


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