Must-See West Village
by Christina Parrella, 12/09/2015
Stonewall Inn. Photo: Christopher Postlewaite
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Christopher Street, one of the West Village's main thoroughfares, is home to many LGBTQ bars—including the Stonewall Inn, site of the 1969 riots that marked the unofficial beginning of the modern gay rights movement. "This is where it all began," Stonewall co-owner Stacy Lentz says. "So much changed for the community since then."
The following year a proto–Pride parade took place—known as the Christopher Street Liberation Day March—gaining steam as it headed up to Central Park; this somewhat impromptu celebration led to the annual Pride March, which begins in Midtown and finishes in the West Village.
In the wake of the riots, the neighborhood served as the locus for the formation of the Gay Liberation Front and other activist organizations, as well as for the publication of LGBTQ newspapers.
The Stonewall Inn's historical significance is on display in photos throughout and in stories recounted by bartender Tree, who was there on the night of the rebellion and has been slinging drinks at the bar for years. The landmark spot offers entertainment every night of the week, including bingo, cabaret and drag shows. Julius', which says it's New York City's oldest gay bar (Tree once worked there too), is also filled with vintage photographs and has a chill vibe.
Other LGBTQ neighborhood haunts for drinking and entertainment include piano bar Marie’s Crisis Café, nightclub The Monster and bi-level cabaret The Duplex. The last of those dates back to the 1950s and offers nightly events like stand-up comedy, open mics and, naturally, cabaret. Back in the day, the likes of Joan Rivers and Barbra Streisand were regulars there.
One of the most vital resources for the gay community is the LGBT Center. Artists, performers and musicians are welcome to showcase work or put on events here; visitors can soak up the culture of the community in its bookstore or café and do research using the center's trove of archival materials.