Landmarks Designates Julius’ Bar

Julius’ Bar. Image Credit: LPC.

On December 6, 2022, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to designate Julius’ Bar at 159 West 10th Street in Greenwich Village as an Individual Landmark. While the building is already located within the Greenwich Village Historic District, the designation of Julius’ Bar recognizes the importance of the location as part of LGBTQ+ history. 

The bar opened as a speakeasy in 1930, and quickly became a hub for artists and writers. In the 1950s and 60s, queer New Yorkers continued to migrate toward Christopher Street, and Julius’ Bar became a home for gay and straight New Yorkers. At the time, gay New Yorkers faced much discrimination, including in bars where the State Liquor Authority was revoking liquor licenses in establishments deemed “disorderly” by the presence of gay patrons. 

In April 1966, activists in the Mattachine Society organized a “sip-in” at Julius’ Bar to highlight the discrimination. The bar had been raided by police earlier in the year, and the members entered the bar, ordered their drinks, announced they were gay and were denied service. They subsequently wrote about the experience and the event was covered in the New York Times. While the Mattachine Society’s lawsuit against the State Liquor Authority was unsuccessful, a later lawsuit would rule that the State Liquor Authority could no longer rule an establishment as “disorderly” for the sake of revoking a liquor license just because there were gay patrons there. As a result, the Sip-In at Julius’ Bar became a key event in establishing the legitimacy of gay bars and LGBTQ+ social spaces. 

Mayor Adams stated, “The ‘Sip-In’ at Julius’ was a pivotal moment in our city and our nation’s LGBTQ+ history, and this designation today marks not only that moment but also Julius’ half-century as a home for New York City’s LGBTQ+ community. Honoring a location where New Yorkers were once denied service solely on account of their sexuality reinforces something that should already be clear: LGBTQ+ New Yorkers are welcome anywhere in our city. Let this designation serve as an important reminder to everyone that LGBTQ+ history is New York City history and that, like Julius’, the City of New York will always serve as a safe haven for LGBTQ+ people to be safe and feel safe.”

Landmarks Chair Sarah Carroll stated, “The Commission’s designation of the Julius’ Bar Building today recognizes and protects the site of the 1966 “Sip-In,” an important early protest against the persecution of LGBTQ+ people that drew vital attention to unjust laws and practices and paved the way for future milestones in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. This building represents that history and has remained an important place to commemorate it.”

Council Member Erik Bottcher stated, “As a gay man who enjoys countless freedoms that were unimaginable in their time, I owe enormous debt to the activists who made Julius’ Bar the site of their protest. Landmarks should tell the history of all New Yorkers, including those from marginalized communities. I want to thank Chair Sarah Carroll and the Commission for their action today and Village Preservation for their longtime advocacy on behalf of this site.”

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



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