See 100 years of LGBTQ history mapped across New York City

The liberation movement has evolved in parks, factories, and dance halls—in secret and in the open.

This story appears in the June 2019 issue of National Geographic magazine.

STONEWALL INN, 1969— When lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people resisted a police raid at this Greenwich Village tavern, they brought a growing liberation movement to light. Today, LGBTQ cultural life in New York City is more visible than ever, and researchers are reconstructing its hidden history. To create a map of nightlife, Jeff Ferzoco of the project OUTgoing NYC scoured libraries and collected personal anecdotes to find where people could meet openly or in secret.

The Ramble in Central Park was a discreet place to meet for much of the 20th century.

Greenwich

Village, home of the Stonewall Inn, hosts one of the world’s largest pride parades.

Global Inspiration

In 2016 the Stonewall area was designated a national monument for its historic impact. This June, 50 years after the uprising, revelers from around the world will join New York City’s annual pride events.

AN EVOLVING SCENE

Average number of active locations

documented per five-year period*

400

The number of LGBTQ nightlife venues in New York peaked in the late 1970s, with some 400 known locations.

200

1890

1920

1950

1980

2000

2018

Before 1950

Before World War II consumed cultural life, drag balls were openly attended by thousands, and many cafés and saloons central to “fairy” culture were in vogue.

1950—1979

As oppression of marginalized people and relationships reached a fever pitch after World War II, communities resisted with activism and open expression.

1980—1999

The rise of HIV/AIDS, which deeply affected the community, exacerbated a cultural backlash in the ’80s and possibly led to a dip in nightlife locations.

2000—2018

As the community grows more connected through social media and other technology, some argue the pressure to meet in LGBTQ-specific venues has lessened.

*Data MAY NOT Represent ALL LGBTQ NIGHTLIFE.

Riley D. Champine, NGM Staff. SourceS: jeff ferzoco, outgoing NYC;

George Chauncey, Columbia University

By the mid-2000s, many new venues had opened in Hell’s Kitchen.

Midtown’s clubs and dance halls helped define

the disco era

in the 1970s.

AN EVOLVING SCENE

Average number of active locations

documented per five-year period*

400

The number of LGBTQ nightlife venues in New York peaked in the late 1970s, with some 400 known locations.

200

1890

1920

1950

1980

2000

2018

*Data MAY NOT Represent ALL LGBTQ NIGHTLIFE.

Riley D. Champine, NGM Staff. SourceS: jeff ferzoco, outgoing NYC; George Chauncey, Columbia University