Calendars of Julius’ Bar benchmarks to be considered as an individual benchmark

Julius’ bar. Image credit: LPC.

The bar has been instrumental in creating LGBTQ+ social spaces and stopping discrimination from the State Liquor Authority. On September 13, 2022, the Monuments Preservation Commission voted for the calendar Julius’ bar to be considered 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 in historic Greenwich Village, but the added distinction as an individual landmark may recognize the bar’s role in the development of LGBTQ+ social spaces.

The building which houses Julius’ Bar was originally constructed as three separate buildings. The original piece is the corner part of 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 buildings may also have been connected. The building’s original facades were stripped and stuccoed in the 1920s, creating an Arts-and-Crafts style that was fashionable in the area at the time.

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

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

After the Sip-In, the head of the city’s Human Rights Commission, William H. Booth, pledged to end discrimination against gay New Yorkers. Members of the Mattachine Society unsuccessfully sued the State Liquor Authority, but a later court ruling found that the presence of gay customers alone did not make an establishment disorderly and that the State Liquor Authority could no longer shut down a bar due to the arrest of a single gay patron (Chipman Associates, Inc. v. New York State Liquor Auth.363 NYS2d 162 (NY 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 the establishment of legitimate gay bars. The bar now openly welcomes the LGBTQ+ community and hosts “Mattachine Parties” that celebrate LGBTQ+ icons. Julius’ was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.

Landmarks President Sarah Carroll said: “We have staff working specifically on identifying sites that are important to the LGBTQ community and the city’s heritage. And [Julius’] has always been the one we thought of. President Carroll thanked the LGBT Historic Sites Project for their collaboration in pursuing the identification of significant sites.

The Monuments Preservation Commission voted unanimously to put the Julius’ Bar building on the calendar. A public hearing will take place at a later date.

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

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

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