As of today, June 18th, 137 West 71st Street is a designated Individual Landmark. The Upper West Side building was the former home to James Baldwin – an activist, playwright and author.
In addition, five other LGBTQ sites were presented to the Landmarks Preservation Commission today. All of them were approved for landmark designation.
The other newly designated landmarks include:
- The Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse
- The Caffe Cino
- The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center
- The Women’s Liberation Center
- The Audre Lorde Residence
The former Upper West Side row house was built in 1890 and was home to Baldwin between 1965 and 1987.
Landmark West fought hard for this designation. And they provided a testimony in support of it. Here are some extractions:
The LANDMARK WEST! Certificate of Appropriateness Committee is in strong support for Individual Landmark designation of the one-time home of James Baldwin. In 1963, just two years after this 1890 row house was converted to apartments, and two years before Baldwin would move in, Henry Luce’s Time Magazine described Baldwin: “There is not another writer—white or black—who expresses with such poignancy and abrasiveness the dark realities of the racial ferment in North and South.”But Baldwin’s legacy didn’t stop there. He pushed boundaries and represented bi-sexual and same sex relationships in his writing, playwriting and activism. Recognizing—and celebrating—the influential staying power of his necessary and outspoken legacy amidst a time of significant cultural turmoil foils curiously with our current social and political circumstances.
Designation of the James Baldwin residence celebrates great strides in social history, ones forged on the Upper West Side, and yet still causing distant reverberations. Reading Baldwin’s writing today reminds us, that while we have come a long way, there is still much work to be done. Recognition and designation is a beginning.