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Pride at NYC Parks

In celebration of Pride Month and #Stonewall50, visit these parks and historic sites that commemorate the history and legacy of the LGBTQ+ movement and community. 

The Stonewall Riots and NYC's First Pride March

This year marks 50 years since the Stonewall Riots at Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. The Stonewall Riots—in protest of a police raid at Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969—sparked the modern movement for LGBTQ rights, as well as advocacy for the legalization of gay bars and the organization of the first NYC Pride March (then known as the Christopher Street Liberation Day March).

A plaque on the wall next to the door to the Stonewall Inn tells the story of the Stonewall Riots and its LGBTQ legacy. Below the history reads: New York State Historic Site, 2016.

The Christopher Street Liberation Day March took place in 1970, on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. It started out from Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village and was followed by a "Gay-in" at Sheep Meadow in Central Park. The third Pride March began in Central Park and ended in Washington Square Park, which was the kickoff point of a July 1969 march to Stonewall in protest of the police raids. Learn more about Washington Square Park's Pride history

Gay Liberation Monument, Christopher Park

The Gay Liberation Monument, a historic LGBTQ site, features four figures - two standing males and two seated females - are positioned on the northern boundary of the park, in natural, easy poses.

This sculpture at Christopher Park, opposite the historic Stonewall Inn, honors the gay rights movement and commemorates the events at Stonewall. In 2018, Christopher Park became a national park and the first-ever U.S. national monument to LGBT rights. Learn more about the Gay Liberation Monument and the Stonewall riots

The First NYC Dyke March

Twenty-four years after the first Pride March, the New York Lesbian Avengers organized and held the first NYC Dyke March in June 1993. The march began in Bryant Park and ended in Union Square. Held on the Saturday before the NYC Pride March, this annual event now ends in Washington Square Park

Many notable New Yorkers, artists, and writers helped shaped the pride of the LGBTQ+ movement and gay rights. Here are highlights of some of those stories told in our parks: 

Alice Austen House, Alice Austen Park

Alice Austen (1866-1952) was a prolific photographer, producing thousands of photographs that captured life in NYC. She lived at Clear Comfort (inside what is now Alice Austen Park) with Gertrude Tate. Alice and Gertrude shared a loving relationship for 53 years, 30 of those were spent living together at Clear Comfort, now known as the Alice Austen House.

The Alice Austen House, a National LGBT Historic Site on Staten Island, is a white, one-floor cottage surrounded by a garden and a lawn with a pathway that leads to the front door.

Alice was a trailblazer on many fronts. Some of her early works included images of women embracing and cross-dressing. She was also the first woman on Staten Island to own a car and the founder of the Staten Island Garden Club. In 2017, the historic house was designated as a National LGBT Historic Site. Visit the Alice Austen House

Gertrude Stein Monument, Bryant Park

A bronze statue of Gertrude Ederle is located in Bryant Park. The statue depicts Gertrude Stein sitting, cross-legged atop a pedestal base that reads: Gertrude Stein, 1874-1946.

This statue in Bryant Park honors American author and arts patron Gertrude Stein (1874-1946). The monument's proximity to the New York Public Library reflects Stein's significant literary contributions—from plays, librettos, and film scripts to biographies, autobiographies, lectures, essays, poems, and novels. In 1903, Gertrude moved to Paris where she met her lifelong partner Alice B. Toklas in 1907. They remained a couple until Gertrude passed away in 1946. Learn more about the Gertrude Stein Monument

Angel of the Waters at Bethesda Fountain, Central Park

A figure of an angel stands atop the very tall Bethesda Fountain surrounded by trees in Central Park. Water runs down from the feet of the angel which was sculpted by lesbian sculptor Emma Stebbins.

This famous Angel of the Waters sculpture in Central Park is the masterpiece of lesbian sculptor Emma Stebbins (1815-1882), the first woman to receive a commission for a major public work in New York City. The statue is part of the beloved Bethesda Fountain which celebrates the 1842 opening of the Croton Aqueduct, which brought fresh water from Westchester County into New York City. Some believe the statue was modeled after her lover, Charlotte Cushman, who was an American actress. In fiction, the Angel of the Waters also watches over the characters at the conclusion of Angels in America, Tony Kushner's landmark play examining AIDS and homosexuality.  Learn more about the Bethesda Fountain 

Keith Haring

Keith Haring (1958-1990) was an openly gay NYC artist made famous for his signature drawings of chalk-like outlines. By the late 1980s, his public art pieces became a monumental voice in tackling social issues revolving around the '80s crack epidemic, sexuality, love, and diversity.

Keith Haring leans on a green parks van in front of his famous Crack is Wack mural, and orange and white artwork featuring chalk-like outlines of people with Xs on their chests.
Keith Haring poses near the Crack is Wack Mural in 1986. (Photo courtesy of The Keith Haring Foundation)

Keith Haring's sculptures have been displayed in Riverside Park and Central Park, and his famous Crack is Wack Mural (currently closed) sits in the Crack is Wack Playground in Harlem. 

Carmine Street Mural by Keith Haring, James J Walker Park

Keith Haring uses a scaffold to paint an outline of a fish with blotches of yellow and blue on the wall of the outdoor pool in what is now Tony Dapolito Park.
(Photo courtesy of The Keith Haring Foundation)

In 1987, Keith Haring painted the Carmine Street Pool Mural at what is now the Tony Dapolito Pool in James J Walker Park. Visit Tony Dapolito Pool this summer to see it! Learn more about Keith Haring's life and legacy

Viewfinding by Sarah E. Brook, Riverside Park South

Viewfinding consists of five wooden trapezoidal components, installed one behind the next and connected by a meandering bench that mimics the river nearby and interacts with the sun setting over the Hudson River. Strips of cast acrylic are fixed within each trapezoid, painted in gradations of color that progress from rich blue to fiery pink, referencing the color progression of a sky at sunset. On the bench are a series of 26 acrylic panels engraved with short works by queer poets

Engraved on this temporary artwork at Riverside Park South are 26 short works by queer poets on the theme of transformation and self-actualization. Stop by to check it out! Viewfinding, by New York-based artist Sarah E. Brook, will be on view in the park through August 22. Learn more about Viewfinding at Riverside Park South

Eleanor Roosevelt Monument, Riverside Park

A statue of Eleanor Roosevelt stands among the greenery in Riverside Park.

This monument in Riverside Park depicts and honors New Yorker, humanitarian, and former U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962). In 1946, one year after serving as First Lady for 12 years, Eleanor became the Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and also chaired the drafting committee for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Learn more about the Eleanor Roosevelt Monument 

Bayard Rustin Plaque, Ralph Bunche Park

A plaque in a garden area in the park reads: Bayard Rustin, March 17, 1912 to August 24, 1987, Human Rights Leader, The principal factors which influenced my life are non-violent tactics; constitutional means; democratic procedures; respect for human personality; a belief that all people are one.

At the southern end of Ralph Bunche Park is a commemorative plaque to Bayard Rustin (1912-1987). Rustin, an African-American civil rights leader who organized the March on Washington Movement, was an openly gay man who in the 1980s became an activist for gay rights. In 2013, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Visit Ralph Bunche Park

Walt Whitman Park, Brooklyn

A park sign on a fence to a park area reads: Walt Whitman Park, operating hours: 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.

In Brooklyn, poet, journalist, and humanist Walt Whitman (1819-1892) is honored with a park in his name. His work Leaves of Grass, first published in 1855, boldly expressed themes of freedom of self as well as sexuality and love. While a New York City resident, Whitman's opinion columns that he wrote while the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle were instrumental in the establishment of Fort Greene ParkVisit Walt Whitman Park

AIDS Memorial, Manhattan

Portions of the words of Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" from Leaves of Grass were selected by conceptual artist Jenny Holzer and engraved in the pavement of the AIDS Memorial in the West Village. The memorial commemorates those we've lost to the fight against HIV/AIDS. 

The AIDS Memorial features a white triangular steel sculpture, a central fountain, and benches

The AIDS Memorial sits at the crossroads of NYC's early AIDS history and the LGBTQ community's mobilization against the AIDS epidemic. The memorial was the site of a former campus for St. Vincent's Hospital (which established the first AIDS ward in the city). Less than a block away is the LGBT Community Center where ACT-UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) and other AIDS advocacy and support groups first organized. The memorial is also within blocks of the first headquarters of Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GHMC), and the former office of Dr. Joseph Sonnabend who pioneered community-based research trials for AIDS drugs. His co-op board’s attempt to evict him led to the nation’s first AIDS anti-discrimination case in 1983. Learn more about the AIDS Memorial

Damrosch Park, Manhattan 

trees grow from retangular tree pits arranged on a plaza-like area

Each year, the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GHMC) hosts the AIDS Walk in Central Park. Founded in 1986, the AIDS Walk is the largest single-day AIDS fundraising event in the world. The first AIDS Walk took place in Damrosch Park. Visit Damrosch Park

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