One of the most famous gay bars in the world, the Stonewall Inn, often just called Stonewall, dates back to 1843. The original construction at the site of the bar took place between 1843 and 1846, although at that time the site was constructed as stables. It wasn’t until the prohibition years in the U.S. that alcohol was first served on the premises, with the property functioning as a “tea room”. It was at that time that Stonewall was given its name, being named after the owner, Bonnie.
Stonewall was converted into a restaurant called Bonnie’s Stonewall Inn during the 1930s, later being renamed as the Stonewall Inn Restaurant. It remained a restaurant until the interior was destroyed by a fire that occurred in the 1960s.
Three members of the Mafia decided to invest in the bar in 1966, and decided to turn it into a gay bar. This turned out to be a good move for the bar, as members of the mafia had police connections and were able to mitigate the effects of police raids on gay bars, which were commonplace at that time. The mafia would use tricks such as keeping large reserves of alcohol nearby in case the police seized any alcohol during a raid.
Stonewall was also the site of a famous incident, later dubbed the Stonewall riots. The riots were a series of violent demonstrations against the police by members of the gay community in New York City. The gay community were demonstrating against the frequent police raids that took place in gay bars, but it wasn’t until a raid that happened in the early hours on the 28th of June, 1969, that the riot began. The police had raided Stonewall at approximately 1:20 am, but were left outnumbered as reinforcements failed to arrive on time. After the arrest of one of the patrons, who may or not have been Storme DeLarverie, managed to incite the crowd to fight back against the police.
It is still debated whether or not the incident at Stonewall has been a positive or negative for the LGBT community, but it wasn’t until that night that the first gay pride rally took place, a rally that has taken place each year since.
After the riots, Stonewall closed down and the site was split up between a number of new businesses that took over occupation, such as a bagel sandwich shop and a Chinese restaurant. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that a bar stood on the site once more, which was unfortunately closed down due to neglect and gross mis-management. The site went on to find new owners, and a now-successful gay bar and nightclub inhabits the spot, with no signs to close down any time soon.