One of our greatest gay literary lions has received a major nod from the United States National Park Service.
Queer author and civil rights activist James Baldwin, known for his groundbreaking contributions to black and queer literature in mid-20th-century America, lived in the same Manhattan residence at 137 W. 71st St. from 1965 until his death in 1987. Now, with the support of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, Baldwin's house has become an official listing on the U.S. government's National Register of Historic Places.
The recognition comes after Baldwin's house was added to the New York State Historic Register, which was approved in June 2019, also due in part to a recommendation from the Project.
Baldwin in his New York City apartment circa 1963.
In a press release provided to NewNowNext, Amanda Davis, project manager of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, explained how and why the group pushed the NPS to recognize Baldwin's Manhattan residence. Davis called Baldwin a "pivotal voice of 20th-century America," noting that the addition is the culmination of the group's "years of research into Baldwin’s connections to New York City and this home, specifically."
Erik Kulleseid, commissioner of the NYS Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation, also praised Baldwin's contributions to LGBTQ history and thanked the Project for its work to highlight historic NYC spots of queer cultural value:
The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project has created a national model for recognizing the underrepresented history of LGBT New Yorkers. We are truly grateful for this collaboration and congratulate the LGBT Historic Sites Project on this latest achievement of officially designating the residence of gay author, activist, and New Yorker James Baldwin to the National Register.
Ken Lustbader, co-director of the organization, told NewNowNext earlier this year that he has worked to identify and catalog places of queer cultural value in the five boroughs for about 25 years.
Lustbader's work with the Project also helped get the famed Stonewall Inn listed on the National Register back in 1999 and the Stonewall National Monument designated in 2016.