Julius Bar, one of New York’s oldest gay bars, is fast becoming the city’s icon

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WEST VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) — One of New York’s oldest gay bars, which played a pivotal role in promoting gay rights for New Yorkers, is fast becoming a landmark.

If Julius’ bar sounds familiar, you may have seen it in movies and TV shows. But also proudly displayed is the story of the role he played in the civil rights struggle of the LGBTQ community, and the heroes of that movement.

“In 1966 we had something called the sip-in,” said Julius’ Bar manager Nick Gabriellini. “Where the National Liquor Authority wouldn’t allow gay people to be served alcohol if they were openly gay. So they staged the sip here, and there was a lawsuit.”

The sip-in and the lawsuit, even before the Stonewall uprising around the corner, would help change New York law.

Now the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission is hearing the case to make it a monument as well.

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“Designating the Julius Bar building as an individual landmark would formally recognize its centrality in the history of the city’s gay rights movement and cement the timing of a pivotal LGBTQ protest as its period of significance,” said Kate Lemos McHale, New York City Landmarks. Preservation Commission Director of Research.

The bar, which has been in business since the 1860s, is full of other carefully preserved stories, from the woodwork with “cheers” in several languages, probably just after Prohibition, to an oil painting portrait of the 1960s. 1920 believed to be a mafia girlfriend. .

“And some of the cash registers there have been there since 1941. We still use them today,” Gabriellini said.

Gabriellini has worked at the bar for nearly 20 years and says more milestones in LGBTQ history were celebrated during this time, such as when marriage equality was passed.

“The bar was packed, and someone put ‘Go to the chapel and get married’ and the whole bar started crying. And it was such a beautiful time here,” he said .

Gabriellini and regular customers are eager for Julius to become the landmark he is for them.

“Just knowing that this place that I love is famous for this wonderful important event made me feel a kind of pride,” said long-time customer Rob Reynolds. “All of us regulars who have been coming here week in and week out for decades somehow feel a kinship and a belonging.”

The building itself is listed as historic and Julius is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But this designation of the city would help preserve and protect the stories within.

No date has been set for a committee vote, but that is the next step.

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