Stonewall National Monument in New York City was established seven years ago. NPCA is leading improvements at the site in seven ways — including the addition of a visitor center.
This June, Stonewall National Monument in New York City celebrates its seventh anniversary as a unit of the National Park Service, the only unit solely dedicated to LGBTQ+ history and culture. Since that time, NPCA has continued to work with the local community to ensure that the park develops into a world-class educational destination.
Stonewall is historically significant because a protracted struggle took place here in which the LGBTQ community fought back against what had become regular, city-sanctioned harassment by police. The spontaneous six-night conflict in 1969 gained national attention and inspired a new movement for full equality and acceptance.
Here are seven ways that NPCA is standing up for Stonewall and making sure your next visit to the site is even better than the last:
1. Adding a visitor center
In the seven years since the designation of Stonewall National Monument in 2016, the park has grown in popularity as a historic New York cultural attraction. NPCA has been working with its partners in the development of a brand-new visitor center, slated to open in 2024. This space will house exhibits, provide amenities for park rangers, and help more visitors and locals connect with the historical significance of the site. Plus, bathrooms!
2. Creating and updating visitor guides
NPCA worked to develop a walking tour of significant LGBTQ+ historical sites around Stonewall so that visitors can understand more about the history of the surrounding neighborhood. An updated version is in the works.
To improve the accessibility of this experience, the tour pamphlets are also available in Spanish and Mandarin. Check them out here!
3. Collaborating with our partners
Stonewall’s core partners regularly gather to ensure that all community members involved in the support of Stonewall — from park rangers and LGBTQ+ historians to elected officials and local residents — are collaborating in productive, innovative ways. At these NPCA-led meetings, we discuss common goals and individual projects in our communal effort to support the park.
4. Engaging the next generation
NPCA hosts local middle and high school Gender & Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) on tours of Stonewall National Monument. The afterschool tours bring Park Service rangers together with students to connect young advocates to their history, culture and local parks. The rangers identify as LGBTQ, further inspiring young visitors.
When in-person visits were impossible during the COVID-19 pandemic, NPCA staff developed a virtual presentation and tour that brought Stonewall’s history to life and helped inspire the students to become advocates for the causes that mattered to them. Read more about our work with students.
5. Making public space more inclusive
This year, the NPCA team has been working with architectural consultants to re-imagine the possibilities for creating public signage and exhibits around Stonewall to recognize the queer history of the area while respecting the local neighborhood.
6. Launching a Talking Statues project
The soon-to-be-launched Talking Statues project builds on the Gay Liberation Monument statues in the park, created by sculptor George Segal, and creates a fifth character named “Christopher Park.” Together, they tell the story of the Stonewall Uprising.
The project team is currently preparing QR codes that will be affixed near each statue, which visitors can scan to receive a “phone call” from the statue. This creative use of technology allows storytelling to take place at the park through recordings when park rangers can’t be there in person. The Talking Statues exhibit will officially launch later this month.
7. Getting that money, Honey
NPCA continues to advocate for park funding, ensuring our national parks are well-equipped with rangers and resources. In this way, visitors to all park sites, including Stonewall, are able to leave having had a meaningful educational experience — one that often reframes how they think about people, places or cultures.
Continue to follow this journey (there’s more to come!) at www.npca.org/stonewall
NPCA thanks Con Edison for their dedicated support for our Stonewall programs.
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About the authors
Shira Michaeli Outreach and Engagement Intern, Northeast
Shira Michaeli serves as the Outreach and Engagement intern in NPCA's Northeast Regional office. Her work specifically focuses on engaging kids and teens in cultural sites in New York City, such as The Stonewall Inn. She is a rising senior studying Human Rights, American Studies, and Jewish Ethics in the joint program between Columbia University School of General Studies and the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Timothy Leonard Northeast Program Manager , Northeast
Timothy is program manager of NPCA’s northeast outreach and engagement initiatives.